Dressing as chickens outside the Arizona state capitol building and questioning Katie Hobbs in a Starbucks may be splashy, but it is part of a deliberate process that Kari Lake and her many campaign groups are employing to swing young voters to her side. And it might be working.
Students for Kari Lake is part of Lake's campaign for governor that extends to every student in Arizona but focuses on UA, GCU and ASU. The organization is a mix of volunteers and interns for the campaign and their work often intersects with other Kari Lake organizations like Veterans for Lake and Black Voices for Kari, as well as on-campus organizations like College Republicans at ASU.
The campaigning approach from Students for Kari Lake has been energetic – and with recent polls showing Democrat candidate for governor Katie Hobbs trailing Lake, student organizers on the democratic side are rethinking their more laid-back campaign style.
Students involved with the organization said Lake has been very hands-on and even gave a shout-out to them at one of her last big rallies.
"She knows me by name, and she knows all of our students by name," said Luke Mosiman, a member of Students for Kari Lake and a senior studying business and civic and economic thought and leadership.
Chairman of Students for Kari Lake Jack Fink, a junior studying digital marketing, said they are targeting ASU more than any other campus in the state at the moment. He said he thinks that most ASU students are "apolitical" and that they want to get students more engaged on what they think are important issues.
"We spend most of our focus here because we want to get these students involved and want to get them interested in what's going on instead of just being oblivious," Fink said. "ASU was forcing masks and requiring health checks and in some cases, vaccine mandates for the students, and students don't really want that."
However, in 2020, 63% of ASU students voted in the general election, according to the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education. According to an exit poll by the Washington Post in 2020, 63% of Arizona voters aged 18-29 voted for Joe Biden.
According to a poll from the Harvard Kennedy School, the top issues among young voters in the past few elections were healthcare, climate change, poverty and immigration.
One of the ways Students for Kari Lake made appeals to young voters was by posting a student testimony on their Instagram from an ASU senior who spoke about inflation and the cost of living in Arizona. Cost of living and inflation has been as much a part of their campaign as the chicken dance.
"We're not going to have that opportunity to have a single family and we're not going to have that opportunity to move into upper class or middle class by working hard," Mosiman said. "We have to understand that so much of our future is relying on this upcoming election."
A recent FOX 10 Phoenix poll found that Lake has a substantial 11-point lead over Hobbs in voters between the ages of 18-39. However, a CBS News poll found that Hobbs has an eight-point lead in the same demographic.
Sophomore Isabel Hiserodt, vice president of membership for the ASU Young Democrats and political science major, said that while she likes to see students get involved with political campaigns, she doesn't like what Lake brings to campus.
Trump-endorsed Lake has been vocal about denying the results of the 2020 presidential election and said she would deploy the Arizona National Guard to the border. Hiserodt said that these ideas are dangerous to spread.
“I don't love seeing other people bringing those views to campus and spreading those views around because, in my opinion, they're pretty hateful,” Hiserodt said.
Mission for Arizona, the Democratic counterpart of Students for Kari Lake, has a similar function. But, instead of one candidate, they campaign for everyone on the Democratic ticket. For the gubernatorial race, they are taking a more laid-back approach.
Hunter Miller, a freshman studying geography, member of Young Democrats at ASU and volunteer with Mission for Arizona, said that they have not had as much success and need an increased sense of urgency so close to the election.
"Energy is a big deal, I feel like we need to be more energetic," Miller said. "We need to start asking different questions."
Miller said the strategy for Mission for Arizona has been asking whether students are looking to vote or if they are looking to register to vote and not asking about the issues. He said that they are telling students to vote without telling them who to vote for.
"We're just saying go vote, please go vote," Miller said. "We're trying to be too nonpartisan."
Mission for Arizona is a partisan organization paid for by the Arizona Democratic Party. They have held events for Hobbs in the past and she has given speeches on campus throughout her campaign with different organizations. They recently held an event with Sen. Mark Kelly, who is also on the ballot to keep his Senate seat, on the Downtown campus next to Taylor Place to promote early voting.
Both organizations were tabling on the Tempe campus on Tuesday afternoon. The vibes were completely different.
The members who tabled with Students for Kari Lake approached people about issues and were overall friendly, as well as having a red tablecloth with the standard Kari Lake logo on their social media that made them instantly recognizable.
The students who tabled with Mission for Arizona were quiet, set up behind a tree and had a table with a blue cloth that only read Sun Devils. This made them difficult to recognize and approach them with curiosity. There were more students behind this table, but they were not actively approaching or engaging students about issues.
Tabling has gotten Students for Kari Lake in hot water in the past, however. They were removed from campus earlier this month because ASU does not allow third-party clubs to table on campus without a representative from an official ASU student organization. That attracted attention and outrage from both Lake and other prominent Republican figures like Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar.
In a statement, ASU said that the name of the sponsored club must be displayed prominently, which is why they now prominently display the name of both Students for Kari Lake and College Republicans at ASU.
Both student organizations are gearing up for final pushes to election day.
Mission for Arizona is doing multiple Get Out the Vote events over the next few weeks, and Students for Kari Lake just participated in an event in Chandler with Lake and fellow members of the Republican ticket including Senate candidate Blake Masters and attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh.
Miller says that Mission for Arizona needs to step up its energy before election day.
"Kari Lake supporters and Kari Lake, in general, are just way more energetic," Miller said. "They’re just way more energized and I feel like that's hindering us."
Edited by Reagan Priest, Wyatt Myskow and Grace Copperthite.
Shane Brennan is a politics reporter at State Press. He also works for Cronkite News and Blaze Radio.