Since Election Day, many a journalist has written pieces cautiously exploring the changes that Millennials will bring to electoral politics, given their “sudden” emergence. Some conclude that Obama has raised expectations too high. One comically questions whether or not it was a good thing for young people for Obama to win. There’s a story in New Hampshire, though, that gives all of us a clue on the kind of transformative change we’re in for thanks to civically-engaged Millennials.

Grafton County, New Hampshire contains the town of Hanover, home of Dartmouth College. A Republican, Carol Elliott, has held various local government positions over twenty years; she probably figured running for county treasurer would be a walk in the park, even if it was 2008 and she’s in the GOP.

But Vanessa Sievers, a 20 year old Dartmouth College student (also a member of the DNC Youth Council), decided to give Elliott a run for her money (no pun intended). Sievers paid $42 for a Facebook ad aimed at Dartmouth and Plymouth State students. The Dartmouth College Democrats backed her up with a superb voter registration and GOTV operation:

Hanover registered 2,436 new voters this year, and David Imamura, the president of Dartmouth College Democrats, yesterday said 2,268 Dartmouth College students voted in the election, about 30 percent of Hanover’s record turnout.

Town officials yesterday confirmed more than 2,000 Dartmouth students voted in the election and said that would be a record.

Sievers could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Imamura said she and other active Dartmouth Democrats went door-to-door on campus to tell students about candidates on the ballot other than Barack Obama and victorious U.S. Senate candidate Jeanne Shaheen.

“I think Dartmouth students have a genuine interest in how government works in New Hampshire,” Imamura said. “It wasn’t just us going out there saying ‘vote straight Democratic’ … it was a big effort to educate Dartmouth students about why they should vote down ticket.”

All of this came together in the form of an Election Day surprise:

Sievers won 21,389 votes across the county to 20,803 for Elliott. Sievers’ largest margin of victory was in Hanover, home to Dartmouth, where she defeated Elliott by 2,438 votes. The Democrat also won 411 more votes than did Elliott in Plymouth, home to Plymouth State University.

It’s quite obvious that Dartmouth College students were responsible for Sievers’s victory. What isn’t so obvious to Elliott and the county GOP chairman — much like their national party compatriots — is that they lost because they’ve either chalked up young voters for the Democrats and not pursued them or they’re outright hostile to their political participation.

Elliott, doing her best to emulate Sarah Palin’s patriotism, whined a bit about the loss:

Elliott yesterday said the heavy college turnout doomed her candidacy.

“The real people … ” she stated, “with a 600-vote (margin), it was the brainwashed college kids that made the difference.”

[…]

“You’ve got a buffoon for a register of deeds, and you’ve got a teenybopper for a treasurer,” Elliott said. “I’m concerned for the citizens of Grafton County.”

[…]

Meanwhile, Ludlow Flower, has no interest in actually doing his job and trying to attract people to the Republican Party, because, well, these people don’t count.

Grafton County Republican Chairman Ludlow Flower yesterday also did not embrace Elliott’s comments about her opposition, but said he was concerned that college students who live in Grafton County for a limited time were tilting elections for county offices.

“I think it’s a terrible shame that the Dartmouth student vote is able to distort the outcome of the vote for Grafton County officers,” Flower said. “I have no problem with them voting for national political tickets, because they do have a stake in this whole country, but they don’t have a stake in our local community here.

“Nothing against Ms. Sievers, but she’s a 20-year-old college student,” Flower continued. “By comparison, Carol Elliott is a public servant of some 25 or 30 years, with a lot of public experience. It just seems a shame that we have yet to figure out a way to make this democratic process for county offices more reflective of our local circumstances.”

Of course, we know that the Supreme Court decided in 1979 that college students do have the right to vote wherever they go to school.(SYMM v. U.S, 439 U.S. 1105 (1979)) So why spend time griping about a ruling that’s been static for nearly three decades; why not try to stem the tide against the national party and pursue these young voters who, more and more, are joining an ever-solidifying and powerful political coalition in the Democratic Party?

The “local circumstances” talk is hilarious, given the snowbirds who only live there for part of the year, never questioned by the GOP. Also, quite frankly, I think it’s a “terrible shame” that, as a leader of that community, Flower doesn’t want to keep people in Hanover after they’ve graduated from Dartmouth, expanding the tax base and improving the economy. But then again, Mr. Flower is exhibiting that “country first” attitude, provided the country looks, thinks, and acts like he does.

This is a perfect example of what will happen to the Republican Party should it continue on its current course. Joe the Plumbers are starting to leave us, as younger, browner, and more progressive voters expand. If the GOP refuses to adapt, they’re screwed. If the Republicans don’t act, the crystal ball becomes clearer: the GOP becomes irrelevant while Millennials run the country as progressive Democrats.

Short story? Carol Elliott and the GOP has come to realize what change means thanks to an enterprising Millennial, and they’re stomping their feet, covering their ears, and crying because they don’t like it.

Advice? Grow up. Literally.

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