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Ohio U College Republicans lead state in constituent calls

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Before the 2018 midterm election, the Ohio University College Republicans made 300,000 phone calls from the organization’s call center — more than any other in the state of Ohio. 

Ryan Evans, a 2018 Ohio U graduate and former president of the College Republicans, said the purpose of the call center is to contact voters and make them aware of the candidates on the ballot. The goal is to increase voter turnout. At the call center, a computer software provided the names, locations and phone numbers of Independent or Republican voters in the area. 

Volunteers within the organization created an atmosphere of friendly competition to see who could make the most calls. The top caller made more than 50,000 phone calls to residents. 

The call center, located in an office building on Station Street, operated six to seven days a week beginning in August 2018 up until the election in November. Between two and five volunteers worked the center at a time, and most were members of the College Republicans.

“People enjoy just getting involved in politics and getting to call real people in the area to get them to get their opinions on some things,” said Kailey Gentner, president of the Ohio U College Republicans.

During a call, volunteers asked a series of scripted questions, such as if a resident was voting for Republican candidates. In 2018 the offices of governor, auditor and several state representatives, were contested. Evans described the phone calls made to residents as a survey. 

The call center covered U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson’s congressional district, which includes a small portion of Athens County. Calls were also made to voters across the state.

Evans’ goal for the call center was to match or beat the performance of a call center in the number of calls than in Columbus. The Columbus center had superior technology that made phone calls more efficient. 

Despite that disadvantage, the success of the Athens call center reflects the College Republican’s reputation as one of the best in the state, Evans said.

At the Athens County Republican Party’s annual fall dinner last week, both state Rep. Jay Edwards, who won his 2018 re-election campaign, and Johnson’s wife, LeeAnn Johnson, extended a great deal of praise to the Ohio U College Republicans chapter.

In 2018, Republicans won every executive position in the state, including the governorship. Every Republican member of Ohio’s Congressional delegation won reelection, with the exception of Sen. Sherrod Brown. Many Republicans also won seats in the Ohio Statehouse.

“I don’t want to say they won necessarily because we were making those phone calls; however, that volume can have a high impact,” Evans said. 

The call center allowed members of the College Republicans to meet with candidates they called on behalf of.

“I think a big thing with college students is [that] they’re so busy with classes and clubs that they kind of forget about politics sometimes,” Gentner said. “There are things directly affecting them, so I think it’s really important that they’re aware of those things and aware of who they’re voting for.”

For Evans, his work with the College Republicans and the call center helped kick start his career as an employee of the Ohio Republican Party.

“I get to put on my resume that I operated a call center that was so successful, that would not have been as close to as successful as it was if I didn’t have the help and support of the Ohio University College Republicans,” Evans said.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to amend Evans’ final quote. The one previously included in the article was incorrect.

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