Behind Election Rhetoric, Democrats Utilize Little Known Strategy to Win 2024

Behind Election Rhetoric, Democrats Utilize Little Known Strategy to Win 2024
(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Shutterstock, Stock Photo)
April 02, 2024
Updated:
April 03, 2024

The upcoming election will likely be less about changing voters’ minds and more about rousing the faithful and getting them to the polls.

America’s students, who according to an analysis by Tufts University helped elect Biden in key swing states in 2020, could prove to be pivotal in this regard, both as targets and as foot soldiers in the party’s get-out-the-vote drives.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit currently moving through Wisconsin courts appears to provide a case study for how these campaigns translate into election wins for the Democratic Party.

In February, Vice President Kamala Harris highlighted that the government is paying college students to register voters.

“We have been doing work to promote voter participation for students. And, for example we … now allow students to get paid through Federal Work Study to register people and to be nonpartisan poll workers,” she said.

Ms. Harris said the Biden administration has been able “to charge federal agencies with doing the work that they rightly can do to inform the American people of their right to vote.”

Paying students to canvass is the latest component of an initiative originated under former President Barack Obama to increase student voting. Initially this was carried out in conjunction with private nonprofit organizations such as Civic Nation.

Founded with the support of President Obama, his wife, and Joe Biden in 2015, and led by former Obama staffers, Civic Nation now boasts a partnership with 1,700 colleges and universities and a reported budget of more than $16 million in 2020.

Its stated goal is “fighting for gender equity, social justice, and more,” and it leads the “All In Campus Democracy Challenge” that engages with university administrators to get them to sign up student voters.

All In runs school get-out-the-vote competitions in all 50 states. According to its website, it has partnered with 994 institutions and signed up more than 10 million students. As part of the “challenge,” schools agree to share student voting data.
Civic Nation receives much of its funding from a network of progressive charitable funds managed by Arabella Advisors, which oversees a network of nonprofit vehicles that finance left-wing political campaigns.

Under the Biden administration, however, the student get-out-the-vote campaign is now being run with federal funds, spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Education.

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Fayetteville State University student NAACP chapter president Ty Hamer (R) leads a call as students walk to vote in Fayetteville, N.C., on March 3, 2020. (Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)

Executive Order Backed by Federal Funds

President Biden’s Executive Order 14019 compels all government agencies to take part in a nationwide effort to register voters and includes a program by the Department of Education (DOE) that pressures educational institutions to demonstrate that they have signed up students to vote.
Following the issuance of EO14019, the DOE sent schools a “Dear Colleague Letter” to “remind institutions of higher education of the federal requirements regarding voting that are tied to participation in federal student aid programs.”

The letter, according to the DOE, also clarifies when Federal Work Study dollars can be used “for nonpartisan civic engagement work.”

According to a 2022 report by Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), “youth ages 18–29 are the only age group in which a strong majority supported Democrats.”

Up until 2002, the youth vote was evenly split between the two parties, the report stated, but since that time young people have shifted sharply in favor Democrats by what is now a 28-point margin. The get-out-the-vote campaigns do not target all young voters equally, however. Instead, they focus their efforts on the most reliable Democrat voters—those who attend college.

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Students walk past a polling site at the University of Pittsburgh during the midterm election, in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Nov. 8, 2022. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
A 2020 survey by Pew Research found that the single largest voter gap in favor of Democrats was white college-educated women, of whom 62 percent voted Democrat versus 34 percent who voted Republican. Conversely, non-college white men favored the Republican Party by a margin of 32 points, with 62 percent for Republicans and 30 percent for Democrats.
“Democrats increasingly dominate in party identification among white college graduates,” the report states. “Republicans increasingly dominate in party affiliation among white non-college voters.”

Students Vote Like Their Teachers

A 2020 report by the National Association of Scholars found that Democrat-registered professors outnumbered Republican-registered professors by a ratio of 10-to-1, a gap that has widened from 4.5-to-1 in 1999.

“Research since World War II has consistently found overwhelmingly left-oriented political attitudes and ideological self-identification among college and university faculty,” the Association states. “It has also found overwhelming support for the Democratic Party.”

The other factor that makes the college vote so attractive to Democrats is the location of college students in key swing states, where a few thousand votes can deliver a win in a tight election. For this reason it may not be coincidental that the youth turnout rate has been much higher in swing states than non-swing states.

The CIRCLE report found that among the highest states for youth voter turnout were Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, and Georgia. In Michigan and Pennsylvania, for example, 36.5 percent and 31.7 percent of residents under the age of 29 voted in 2022.

This contrasts sharply with neighboring non swing states such as West Virginia (14.2 percent), Delaware (18.7 percent), New Jersey (20.6 percent), Ohio (21.6 percent), Connecticut (21.4 percent), New York (20.7 percent), and Massachusetts (18.5 percent). Oregon, a reliable blue state, bucked this trend with 35.5 percent youth turnout.

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Students attend a political roundtable at Marshall University in Huntington, W.V., Oct. 18, 2018. (Michael Mathes/AFP via Getty Images)

A Wisconsin Case Study

Wisconsin, another key swing state, didn’t report youth vote numbers in the CIRCLE report. But a lawsuit brought by a nonprofit called the Wisconsin Voter Alliance (WVA), which a judge recently approved for discovery phase, argues that a partisan campus voter drive is occuring in the state, and it’s delivering results for left-wing candidates.

“It’s extremely effective,” Ron Heuer, WVA president, told The Epoch Times. “They’re using our facilities, paid for by U.S. taxpayers, and employees of our universities to run this whole scheme, and presidents of universities across the nation have all signed on to this thing.”

The WVA has been gathering voting data on student voting in Wisconsin since 2020. What they discovered was both exceedingly high rates of student registration relative to the rest of the population, together with overwhelming percentages of student votes going to Democrat candidates.

Analyzing data from the 2022 elections, the WVA calculated that the percentage of voters on college campuses well exceeded voter turnout elsewhere in the state, which averaged 58 percent across Wisconsin, and that votes for Democrat candidates in university wards far exceeded state averages. Furthermore, Mr. Heuer states, voting records show a surge in same-day voter registrations throughout the university system.

“There are some really strange things going on on campuses, with regard to left-leaning 501(c)(3) organizations taking control of the entire process of voter registration and get-out-the-vote,” Mr. Heuer said. His investigation began at the state’s flagship campus, University of Wisconsin Madison.

“As we were looking into this, we started to realize that on each one of the University of Wisconsin campuses, there are people who are assigned to work with All In on their programs,” he said. “For example, in University of Wisconsin Parkside there are 10 different 501(c)(3)s that are involved, on just one campus.”

These left-leaning non-profits included Civic Nation, the Andrew Goodman Foundation. Vote.org, Ask Every Student, Voces de la Frontera, and the American Democracy Project, he said.

Across the 17 largest campuses in the state, WVA measured the number of votes cast in the 2022 election against voter registration on Nov. 1, 2022, the day before the election. They found that votes cast exceeded prior registered voters by a large percentage. In one case, at the University of Wisconsin Superior, votes cast exceeded prior registered voters by 10 times.

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Bascom Hall on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 12, 2013. (Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

Votes in the four wards of the University of Wisconsin Madison, the state’s largest school, ranged from 112 to 145 percent of voters registered on Nov. 1. These percentages appear to indicate a rush of election-day registrations, Mr. Heuer said, and a large number of same-day registrations can create substantial problems for state election officials in terms of verifying eligibility, preventing duplicate voting, etc.

In addition, these additional votes turned out heavily in favor of Democrat candidates, the WVA found.

In wards in which Wisconsin’s largest universities and colleges are located, Democrat Gov. Tony Evers received on average about 69 percent of votes. In the four wards where the University of Wisconsin Madison is located, Mr. Evers received between 82 and 90 percent of the votes.

These numbers are in stark contrast with statewide averages; Mr. Evers ultimately won re-election with about 51 percent of the vote. And WVA argues that the student vote was, and will continue to be, decisive.

Extrapolating from the more than 160,000 students enrolled in the University of Wisconsin system alone, and assuming, as in 2022, that 80 percent of them vote and 69 percent of them vote Democrat, this would theoretically deliver a “positive swing” for Democrats of 48,200 votes in Wisconsin, Mr. Heuer said.

“And in the 2020 presidential race, Biden won by 20,600 votes,” he said.

Who Sees Students’ Personal Information?

In addition to the benefits from student votes, there is also the high value of student data.

As political campaigns increasingly become a matter of “micro-targeting” individual voters, having the most comprehensive and detailed data on voting-age Americans has become essential to winning elections.

For this reason, analysts have raised red flags about the personal information that is being collected on more than 50 million college students. Critics allege that this data may be accessible to partisan organizations.

A 2012 DOE-sponsored report called “A Crucible Moment: College Learning and Democracy’s Future,” sparked the creation of a partnership between Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy and Higher Education and the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), America’s largest student data aggregator, to increase voting on college campuses.

The NSC was originally established in 1993 to house data for student loan servicing but over time evolved into the central hub for extensive personal data on high school and college students, which was collected and submitted by their schools. It soon added a research center on student activity and in 2007 received a grant from the Gates Foundation for a student tracking study.

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People walk through the gate on Harvard Yard at the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Mass., on June 29, 2023. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Today, the NSC reports that it receives student information from 3,550 colleges and universities, and 22,000 high schools, which represents 97 percent of college students and 70 percent of high school students throughout the United States.
The partnership between the NSC and Tufts led to the creation of the National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE), to which schools submit voting information on their students. In brief, schools hand over student data to the NSC and the NSC shares data from participating schools with NSLVE, which analyzes it together with voter data provided by third-party aggregators.

“Institutions that choose to participate in NSLVE sign an authorization form that permits the Clearinghouse to provide a voter organization with student names, addresses, and dates of birth to match with that organization’s voter registration data,” the NSC told The Epoch Times. “The matched dataset is then sent to the Clearinghouse, and the organization destroys the data it received from the Clearinghouse.”

The contracts that schools sign with the NSLVE also permit student data to be shared with a “third party” organization. The third-party partner organizations that have worked with NSLVE in this effort have included data aggregators, Catalist and L2 Political.

These third party partnerships have raised concerns with election watchdog groups.

According to a 2023 report from Verity Vote, a research and investigations organization, “university officials may have been duped into authorizing disclosure of highly sensitive private student data to a partisan private corporation that works exclusively with Democrats and progressives under the guise of a dubious study exception.”
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Catalist, which was founded with funding from progressive billionaire George Soros in 2006 in response to the re-election of President George W. Bush, states it was established for the purpose of “providing our data only to Democrats and progressives.”

It currently holds detailed personal information on more than 256 million voting-age Americans across all 50 states and has become an essential source of voter data for the Democratic Party.

“In building Catalist as the best, most perfect ‘enhanced national voting-age person database’ that money could buy, one limitation became apparent,” the report states. “While all states make lists of registered voters publicly available, an accurate list of unregistered persons proved to be elusive, as that enormously valuable data is not commercially available and cannot be bought.”

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Students from the University of Texas in Austin walk in the square during the presidential primary in Austin on March 3, 2020. (Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images)

In addition to voter registration lists, data aggregators also collect personal information on potential voters from commercial sources like credit reports. Students, however, often do not appear on these lists because they may not have credit histories, or utility bills in their name, or be registered to vote.

Verity Vote states that the extensive data on high school and college students held by the NSC, however, contains this elusive data. And it could be compared with lists of registered voters in order to derive lists of unregistered voters, to whom political campaigns could be targeted.

The NSC, however, stated that it doesn’t share student data with Catalist.

“While the Clearinghouse and Tufts once used Catalist as the voter organization, the Clearinghouse has not used Catalist since 2019,” a NSC spokesperson told The Epoch Times.

The NSC stated that it combines the matched dataset it receives from third parties with the student data it receives from schools. Then, after de-identifying the data, it sends it to Tufts, which prepares the aggregate reports for institutions.

Tufts University likewise told The Epoch Times that it no longer uses Catalist and doesn’t provide student data to aggregators.

“When the study launched in 2013, Catalist was our source for voting records, but we switched to L2 Political in 2018,” a Tufts representative stated. “In both cases, our relationship with these organizations was simply to access a voter file.”

In addition, Tufts stated neither it nor NSLVE receive students’ personal data “such as names or other information that would enable us to identify individual students.”

The Epoch Times reached out to Catalist and Civic Nation for comment regarding this article but did not receive a reply.

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