By Sara Silvestro
Republican Charlie Baker was declared the winner of the gubernatorial election Wednesday morning, defeating Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Baker received 48.46 percent of votes and Coakley received 46.58 percent.
Many Framingham State University students were unfazed by the news. However results from an unscientific Gatepost survey of 400 students taken in October showed that students favored Coakley. Of the 60 percent of students surveyed who said they were planning to vote, 79 students, approximately 20 percent, said they would vote for Coakley while 54 students, approximately 13.5 percent, said they would vote for Baker. One hundred students, or 40 percent, said they were unsure whom they were going to vote for, while 10 students, 2.5 percent said “other.”
Kate Turner, a senior psychology major, said, “I didn’t vote. I was very uninformed and didn’t feel right voting.”
According to Christopher Latimer, chair of political science, there were several reasons for Baker winning the election, one of them being Baker’s “strong” connection with the people of Massachusetts.
“Coakley’s ground game and getting people out to vote made the election much closer than people assumed,” said Latimer in an email. “It was not like either candidate was seen negatively by voters during the campaign. The stronger connection that Baker had with people and his vision for the future enticed Independents and Democrats to vote for a moderate Republican in a blue state.”
He added, “The election of a Republican as governor, which has happened before, will provide contrast to the Democratically controlled legislature.”
One of the major concerns Tim Brita, a senior graphic design major, would like Baker to address is poverty.
“I feel that since 2008, we need to focus on how we can reduce poverty,” said Brita. “As we know, 40 percent in the U.S. live in poverty and survive every day trying to make ends meet.”
Brita said he believes higher education will lead to better job opportunities, which is why he thinks it is another major concern that Baker should be focusing on.
Baker’s vision for the future entails expanding online and three-year degree options and grants to public colleges to expand internship programs, according to Latimer.
“It appears from these campaign promises that Baker wants to make higher education more affordable and to keep students in Massachusetts,” he said.
Many students were happy with the election results.
Frank Leger, a junior criminology major, said the cost of college is “simply too high” and universities have become “too much of a business.”
Leger said he is interested in how Baker’s policies will address this. He hopes these policies will encourage the growth of faster degree and online programs.
“I believe getting degrees to kids quicker and cutting costs is an idea many people can get behind,” said Leger.
He has a more personal relationship with Baker than most. Leger grew up with Baker’s son, A.J. Leger said he and A.J. attended the same high school and were on the same sports teams. Leger said he remembers Baker driving the two of them to one of their basketball games “back in the day. ”
Despite the personal connection, Leger does not consider himself to be a Republican and is registered as an Independent.
“I don’t call myself a Republican by any stretch ... but I do agree with most of Baker’s moderate policies and I have a strong connection to him and his family, so I am quite happy with the results,” said Leger. “I was at the Seaport Hotel for the election night party.”
Marissa Miele, a junior political science major, said, “Overall, I wasn’t too surprised with Charlie Baker’s win. From what I heard from my classmates and from my family, Martha Coakley wasn’t the most popular candidate running.”
Miele also looks forward to Baker making his ideas a reality.
“Baker’s ideas for lowering higher education costs would be great,” she said. “It makes sense to try to limit the years a student spends on earning a degree, and ultimately less money. I just wish these policies went into affect before I started college.”
Not all students were thrilled with the results. Some are concerned about the impact Baker will have as a Republican in a blue state and how that might ultimately affect higher education.
Matt Tavares, a junior criminology major, said, “I think it was a really close race, however I believe Martha Coakley would have been a much better choice for our state. Baker’s plan to cut government spending will more likely affect our public schools and universities, causing students to shell out more money for a 21st-century education.”
Latimer said, “Higher education has become much more expensive and is difficult to a]ord. Many students are graduating with substantial debt that keeps them down.”
Latimer senses the uncertainty in Baker’s promises about higher education yet he said it is hard to ever be certain of what the future entails.
Brandon Martinez, junior sociology major and Student Trustee of SGA, said Baker’s main focuses are on improving the economy, keeping tax rates low and creating jobs.
However, Martinez said he likes Baker’s policies but is curious to see how Baker will keep college costs more affordable.
“He [Baker] wishes to connect more employers and colleges together to get students ready for life after their undergrad,” said Martinez. “He also wants to have more paid internship programs which is an important experience for students to have.”
Shelby Phillips, a senior political science major, said she believes Baker’s win is good for the state of Massachusetts.
“He’s excited,” she said. “He’s anxious and he is going to make great strides for our state’s role in education” by increasing the number of charter schools.
Phillips believes that as governor, Baker will lower the cost for higher education in Massachusetts and help reduce college debt for graduates.
Phillips said, “In years to come, many incoming college students are going to be happy with Charlie Baker’s election to the office.”