The Bars Weren't Open This Morning


Ann Arbor, home of the Michigan Wolverines, is the most left-wing town in the state, arguably in the entire Midwest. Still, when I was an undergrad here in the election of '88 and a newly-minted alum in the election of '92, there were at least a few indications around campus that the vote was being contested. (And not just by the Republicans. If you wanted to meet Helen Halyard, nominee of the Workers League, she was right there outside the library, passing out her own literature.)

Today you can see a few McCain signs in the townie parts of the city, though the Obama signs overwhelmingly outnumber them. But on campus, the only indication I could find that the GOP even exists was one curly-haired kid in a McCain-Palin T-shirt, deep in what appeared to be an entirely apolitical conversation. I realize that I'm an outsider now, no longer plugged in to college activism, and that there's surely a student right-wing underground. But even taking that into account, the visible support for Obama seems much more uniform than the support for Clinton and Dukakis 16 and 20 years ago. The College Democrats were out in force on the Diag, the center of campus, handing out literature (one volunteer's pitch to passers-by: "Free Obama stuff?") and singing what I gathered were Obama carols. Rock the Vote, nominally nonpartisan but in practice an extension of the Democratic Party, had a booth there as well. So, happily, did Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, who are campaigning for a Michigan medical marijuana initiative.

The polls were open at the student union. There was a blood drive in progress there as well, in case anyone wanted to contribute something useful to the community. Both attractions seemed to be doing brisk business. A nice young woman offered me an I Voted sticker as I exited the area, even though I had not, in fact, just cast a vote. If I were less honest, I would have taken the opportunity to con Starbucks out of a cup of coffee.