Students talk varying support for presidential candidates
The presidential race began with 23 candidates. Now, only five remain — two Democrats and three Republicans. On campus, students appear to lean toward Sanders, but that is certainly not the only view present.
The Michigan primary was just one example of how student voters have significantly impacted the election cycle. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D–Vt.) scored a surprise win over Hillary Clinton with 50.1 percent of the vote, despite having a 20-point deficit in the polls leading up to the election. High voter turnout and support among young people — particularly students — in part drove Sanders to victory in the state.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump's victory was expected by pollsters. Gov. John Kasich’s (R–Ohio) had hoped to achieve a second place finish to bolster his position moving forward. Though Cruz came in second, Kasich found particularly strong support in the areas surrounding the University of Michigan, earning 34 percent of the overall Republican vote in Washtenaw County.
In a series of interviews with The Michigan Daily, students shared their political views, why they support different candidates and what they hope for the future following the election. Quotes were chosen from each interview to reflect the students’ beliefs.
LSA junior, supports Sanders.
“My father left when my mother was pregnant with me, so I had a single mother growing up,” he said. “It was very interesting to see from her point of view also as a teacher who hasn’t made that much. When you go through the education system a lot of teachers are very liberal, so that came across through my mother, but she also taught me to be loving and compassionate.”
“Surprisingly, I was very religious between sixth and 12th grade. That actually is what formed me to what I am today. What all of the pastors taught me is that you should love one another; you should help one another. Right now those same people are voting for Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, so I don’t know where the disconnect happened that I ended up leaning towards Bernie Sanders and they ended up leaning towards that, but I feel like the messages they taught me, I interpreted as to believe in Bernie’s policies where we have to help people.”
“The college campus has changed a lot for me. Coming out of high school, I was kind of uneducated on a lot of issues. Being around a diverse group of people has helped me understand people better and probably made me more liberal leaning.”
School of Information senior, supports Kasich.
Chair of the University chapter of the College Republicans
“My parents are both very strong, right-wing conservatives, and that obviously has a very strong say in what I believe now,” she said. “I have changed a lot since I came to college. Before I came to college, I was really just aligned with my parents’ views, but when I came here I definitely became more moderate. A big part of that was in high school I was part of a very small community, but coming here I got to meet all of these wonderful people and that changed my viewpoints a lot.”
“For me it’s mainly the fiscal issues. Social issues for me are not as important. I’m really a fan of how he turned around Ohio in terms of the big budget surplus and doing tax cuts. I also like the fact he is a little bit more moderate on the social issues.”
“I like the fact that his temper is pretty mild. I think as a president you need to be kind of calm at all times and level headed, so I like that Kasich seems to be very not quiet, but easy going with an even heeled temper.”
LSA sophomore, supports Hillary Clinton
Outreach director and event coordinator for Students for Hillary
“The trait that really draws me to Clinton is that she is a fighter,” she said. “There is a lot of sexism in the media, there is a lot of criticisms of Clinton even though she’s done some truly incredible things for people. Day in and day out she comes back and continues to fight for the people who criticize her — that’s the kind of selflessness that I would like in a leader — someone who has insults hurled at them in a rally and still goes out to fight for legislation that defends those people.”
“There are three policies that I am most passionate about: mental health, sexual assault on college campuses and college affordability. The sexual assault on college campuses is particularly important to me because Hillary is the only presidential candidate to have a platform about this. It’s an issue that, as a female college student, I’m afraid of every single day. It’s very validating to know that the person I support for president cares about my safety on campus.”
“People tend to view a woman who is commanding or authoritative or assertive in any way as bossy. If you have a man who speaks commandingly or has years of experience, that person wouldn’t be seen as a liar or someone who is untrustworthy, they would be seen as a commander in chief. Another reason people see her as a liar is that she has evolved on issues, which is something every candidate has done, and is necessary. You can’t hold onto your views from the ‘70s to 2016 because while your views are important, what is most important is that you represent the people who elected you or who support you.”
LSA sophomore, supports Trump.
Member of the College Republicans
“His tax and immigration policy are most appealing to me,” she said. “When you think of Trump, you do not think of taxes. I’ve been encouraging people to look at his tax policy. It’s a four bracket system — the highest is 25 percent on income. That is something I really like about him and I encourage others to look at it. Also, I really support him in immigration. We aren’t a country if we don’t have borders. I’m very pro-immigration, but it has to be legal. With him, I am confident that he will do something about immigration.”
“No matter what side you are on, the youth enthusiasm for voting in this election is crazy. Trump and Sanders are drawing huge crowds of college voters in, and that’s awesome. In terms of being at Michigan, I’m a very proud Trump supporter. I know I am in the really small minority, but I have found that with the Sanders supporters I have had great discussions with some of them. Talking about policies, not getting into arguments, but seeing where each other stands on these issues and gathering an understanding of why the other person thinks that way.”
“Do I agree with everything Trump says? No. But I think people are quick to judge on what they hear without sitting down and looking at his policies — things that aren’t brought up in the news such as his tax policy.”
LSA sophomore, supports Sanders.
Member of Students for Sanders.
“I first heard about him last summer, maybe a couple of months before he entered the race,” she said. “I didn’t get that much of a realistic impression of him. I had heard of him as this outsider, socialist Democrat who didn’t really have a chance but had some really cool ideas. But then in the fall I joined up with Students for Sanders.”
“I think he is a really genuine candidate. He doesn’t have any super PACs. He doesn’t take any money from corporations or wealthy individual donors. You can tell who’s funding him, and in that sense he is more credible. He does seem very trustworthy. He’s consistent; he has a record. You can look up what he’s been doing and the values that he’s held for the past few decades.”
“I’d like to see a revitalizing our democracy. That’s what his campaign is really about, just taking the people's voice and letting it be heard again. Having people actually represented in Washington by people who will actually protect their interests."
LSA sophomore, supports Kasich
President of Students for Kasich
“He’s such a nice guy,” she said. “You look at Ted Cruz or Donald Trump. There are people getting beat up at his rallies. Whereas with Kasich — at least at the town halls I’ve been to — people are crying, he’s hugging them. It’s just a complete opposite of what you are seeing from the other Republican candidates. He shows compassion and genuine interest in the well-being of Americans.”
“I would like to see a presidency that brings Americans together. At the end of the day, we can work together for a common purpose and not be so divided. Kasich speaks a lot about knowing your neighbor and having a community, and I think once we unite and work together to solve our problems and focus on our neighbors and our community then America can begin to thrive.”
“I grew up in a somewhat working-class home. College is where I started becoming interested in politics. I became much more informed and more interested in social issues. You can practically solve issues that the Republicans are not focused on, and I think you get that with Kasich. He wants to focus on the environment, he wants to not be so divided on gay rights.”
The Daily was unable to contact any supporters for Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) on campus.