College Students Fearful About Current Presidential Election

By Colton Loftin

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump takes the field at Jack Trice Stadium with ISU President Steven Leath in September 2015.

“I’m just so sick of seeing both of them, it makes me not even want to vote,” Rachel Pearson, 23, senior in economics, says, exasperated at the thought of voting.

With the November 8 election only one month away, Iowa State students as well as citizens across the United States will decide who will become the next president: Republican nominee Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

A major factor in this election will be the youth vote. According to July 2015 estimates by the United States Census Bureau, 31.2 million people, or 9.7 percent of the US population, are of the college-aged 18-24 demographic. Iowa State University houses over 30,000 students within this demographic as of the fall 2016 semester.

Historically, college-aged voters are more likely to miss out on the polls than turn up to vote. According to the Pew Research Center, voter turnout for the 18-24 demographic has not reached 50 percent since 1988, the highest being 48.6 percent in the 1992 election and the most recent turnout rates being 41.2 percent in the 2012 elections.

Once again, youth voter turnout may be an issue this election cycle. When asked how they feel about the coming election and the entire media circus surrounding it, some Iowa State students had nothing but negative things to say.

“I think there’s definitely a better option for both sides out there, but we’re stuck with these two,” says Sydney Townsend, 19, sophomore in psychology.

“It’s just a lose-lose situation,” says Brandon Busch, 23, senior in chemical engineering.

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Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at Howe Hall in January 2016.

These opinions aren’t out of the ordinary. According to September 26 Gallup Polls, only 12 percent of young voters think that Trump would be a “good or great” president if elected, and only 27 percent think the same about Clinton.

The Republican nominee in particular seems to scare away young voters. 61 percent of young voters think that Trump would be a “poor or terrible” president if elected compared to Clinton’s 33 percent.

Several of Iowa State’s community reflect on that notion.

“Honestly, Trump just terrifies the hell out of me,” says Adam Muntz, 21, junior in graphic design.

“I don’t know who I’m voting for, but definitely no to Trump,” says Patritsia Ilieva, 22, senior in accounting.

There does seem to be some Trump support among Iowa State students, but it comes with some caution.

“Somehow I think Trump might get it done. But it would really be hit or miss,” says Busch.

With this election, some are starting to view third-party candidates, specifically Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, as a viable choice.

“I feel like I have a moral obligation to vote for neither of them [Trump or Clinton],” says Andrew Oswald, 21, senior in kinesiology, defending his choice.

According to a poll made by Turning Point USA, Johnson is gaining some traction with young voters as he currently has 14.1 percent preference rating by those polled.

With all of the media vitriol for both major party candidates, it seems that college-aged voters are being left in the dust.

“It’s just really depressing that this is my first election I can vote in, and these are my two real choices,” laments Townsend.

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