Millennials’ Choice

Alex Mootafian

Untitled 3On Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, people around the country will head to the polling booths to cast their vote for the next President of the United States of America — but we’re getting ahead of ourselves, that’s over 200 days away. Before all that starts, we have to
narrow the field to one nominee for each major party. That’s what the Primaries are for. And with millions of young millennials now being of voting age, we will have a larger say than ever before in who we want to campaign in the general election.

So, who’s capturing the imagination of young Democrats? Well, that’s a pretty easy one. “Bernie Sanders,” says Cam Weagle, a Junior. “He seems the most rational candidate, and a speaker for young people,” he added. Weagle is hardly alone. Iowa’s February 1st caucus, the first in the nation, showed 84% of 18 – 29 year olds backing Sanders, according to a New York Times entrance poll. This was echoed by a CNN exit poll from the February 9th New Hampshire Primary, with 83% behind Sanders.

Sander’s surge among young people isn’t just a fluke. “He’s speaking to young peoples’ level, saying ‘we can do better’,” explained American Government teacher Mr. Krieger. He’s touching upon the issues that matter most to millennials: “The price of college tuition,… minimum wage, and the entire system of [public] education,” Weagle said.

Free public college tuition is a centerpiece of Sanders’s campaign. “I’m a student myself, so education is hugely important to me,” Weagle explained. “College is much too expensive for the average person to afford.” The plan really resonates with young Americans who are facing more than $50,000 in debt for a college degree, which may in part explain why Sanders is so popular with millennials.

Young Republicans are a little more split, but one candidate does shine a little more than the rest when it comes to youth support: Donald Trump. “He has no political experience and doesn’t follow the status quo in ‘The Establishment’,” said Adam Calnan, a sophomore. “Trump is a solo man. There is no Super PACs he has accepted because he can fund himself.”

Trump has tapped into a voter base of young people whose most important issues include immigration, taxes, and terrorism/foreign policy. He points out a lot of glaring issues with these systems that a lot of people care about: “His message reaches the populist field — that we need change. And that he’s the one to make that change,” explained Mr. Krieger.

To a lot of people, Trump’s rhetoric seems extreme and unfiltered — but for some, that’s part of the allure. 63% of adult surveyed nationally by Fairleigh Dickinson University believed political correctness is a big problem in the United States. Calnan explained that he spoke his mind, that “there [are] no people manipulating what he says behind stage.”

The Presidential primaries have been shocking and unexpected on both sides of the isle this year, with both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump denying expectations and exploding with new, youth support. Millennials will have a louder voice than ever before on the national stage, and this is our year to make ourselves heard.