The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away

Thursday, 10 March 2005 — 10:38pm | Studentpolitik

To answer the question that James Crossman posed in this poll: style beat substance by 92 votes on the sixth ballot. The results are here. If I had any opinion on American politics, I believe the appropriate line would be, “Now I know how the Democrats feel.”

Mustafa Hirji led in the initial rounds of balloting, and it was not until there were three remaining candidates that Lettner surpassed him by a mere three votes, with Abboud dropped as a distant third. While Mustafa’s performance out of the gates surprised everybody present, the trend that ensued as the runoff votes were tabulated was ultimately foreseeable. Steve Smith said it best:

Your assumption seems to be that Mustafa could pick up latter-ballot support. I think that, of all the candidates, he may have the least potential for this. I mean, there are two types of voters: those who know what they’re talking about and those who don’t. The first category is voting Mustafa, probably at a rate of at least 80%. Those in the first category who are not voting Mustafa are most likely failing to do so because they hate democracy, so they’re not going to vote for him on later ballots either.

The voters who don’t know what they’re talking about are generally not voting Mustafa. Those who don’t vote for him on the first ballot are unlikely to do so on later ballots, because their objections to him (“He’s so frowny!” “He isn’t charismatic enough to be President!” “His posters sucked!”) are likely to continue to apply on later ballots. Uninformed voters are much more likely to break for those candidates with nice posters, good sound bytes, and the impression of experience (think Abboud and, to a lesser extent, Lettner and Poon).

The “voters who don’t know what they’re talking about” caught up, and the rest is history.

I will, however, extend a courteous congratulations to our new Students’ Union President, Graham Lettner. This is because I am a good sport when it comes to matters that do not involve Dan Brown, Star Wars franchise novels, fullscreen DVDs or genocide. Lettner’s ascendency is not the beginning of a new dark age for the Students’ Union, but a rejection of the opportunity to escape an existing one. Aside from that, his team ran a strong campaign.

Perhaps there is no need to dwell on the ifs, buts and other miscellaneous conditionals. We could blame Ross Prusakowski for the undue influence of that hopelessly misinformed Gateway piece of his that made the race look close, when frankly, the choice for President was obvious. We could harp on how Mustafa could have gotten half of the superstar volunteers working on other campaigns had his candidacy been announced well in advance, or the irony of how he was instrumental in introducing preferential balloting in the first place. But at this stage, that would accomplish nothing. I think the relative silence at the Power Plant upon the announcement of the winning ballot, Lettner’s campaign team aside, was a sufficient testament to what we saw happen tonight.

On the upside, the Health Plan referendum was defeated. You win some, you lose some.


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