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If I were to list the most common words said at the Michelle Obama rally Monday night, “Penn” would be right up there with “vote” and “thank.” This seems harmless in itself. But after seeing the election results, as much as the First Lady’s presence at Penn may have helped the Democratic ticket, it may have stung just a little too.

You would assume correctly that given the festive atmosphere of the rally, Pennsylvania’s status as a swing state was highlighted this election cycle — in neon and confetti. The lines to get in were stretched down walkways, cameras and notepads were popping up and the DJ played only the hottest hip-hop dance tracks. It was exciting enough to almost make you forget to check if your frostbitten feet were still intact. Almost.

Most importantly, the politicians all followed the cardinal rule of public speaking: To know your audience, which was mostly Penn students and affiliates.

“Who’s at school here at Penn, raise your hands,” Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato said. “We have a lot of bright people standing here in front of me right now.” Just in case you forgot to pat yourself on the back this morning, he might have added. Joe Sestak, the Democratic candidate for Senate, confided that “five of my six sisters went to University of Penn.” To be sure, it’s an obligatory gesture to relate to an audience this way. But is this the audience they should have trying to relate to?

The growing discontent with President Barack Obama’s administration seems to be continually summed up by a growing chorus of its harshest critics in a handful of talking points, one of which is pretty simple: the President and his administration are too elitist and out of touch with the real America. Whether or not you agree with the statement is irrelevant — the sentiment is real, and up in the air like so much pollen come springtime. For all intents and purposes, real America in the above statement tends to not include coastal universities like Penn. So, when the First Lady told us that she was “thrilled to be in this beautiful city at this great University” and the crowd erupted, I couldn’t help but wonder if her purpose would be better served if she had said “beautiful state” instead, because Pennsylvania’s voter demographic isn’t so homogenous.

To be fair, preaching to the choir and energizing the base is part of the hallmark of a rally. Clearly, Monday’s rally was designed to mobilize Democrats, while Republicans cared less about turning out every voter on campus. “I think [the College Republicans] realize that anyone at [a get-out-the-vote event] is probably going to be a Democrat … Today, I didn’t see a single Republican out there,” Michael Abboud — a first-year medical student and former events director for the Penn Democrats — said on election day. “Our campus is very, very, very heavily Democrat.”

But persuading undecided voters should have been just as important for Democrats. If you’re aware that opponents have typecast you as snobbish, then it might have been better to hold the rally in an area with a mixed voter demographic rather than in the middle of a terrible, horrible, hoity-toity, latte-sipping, apple laptop-toting, overly educated, elitist, glitterati East Coast liberal bastion of a school.

I meant Penn, but only in the nicest way possible.

National anti-establishment sentiment was a major force behind the Republican sweep of the major Pennsylvania elections. If that’s the case, then Michelle Obama’s rally here at Penn was akin to having a fire in the kitchen and spraying only the top of the flame with the extinguisher. Not missing the mark per se, but now the kitchen is scorched and you have two years to repair it.

Mark Attiah is a first-year medical student from Dallas. His e-mail address is Truth Be Told appears on alternate Thursdays.

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