Election day looms on the horizon. We are all preparing for next Tuesday, when the end to a tumultuous campaign season will finally come and, at last, we will all know who the next president will be. For many Americans, the end of this chaotic election also ends months of stressing over our nation’s future. Many Rider students will likely mirror that feeling.
But how exactly does Rider view this fast-approaching election?
Through a survey conducted by students of Dr. Gutin’s unique course, The Making of the President 2016, COM 390, 125 respondents from classrooms here at Rider shared their election opinions.
Though this was not a scientific survey, this poll offers interesting insight on Rider’s community and our approach to this political season.
Of the respondents surveyed, 85 percent reported that they were planning to vote, meaning only 15 percent said they would not vote. That 85 percent alone is encouraging, as 98 percent of respondents were actually students. This proves that millennials and college students do not always fit the stereotypical, politically apathetic mold that we are often held to.
Respondents were also asked what the top three issues driving their decision on whom to vote for were. The issue that received the most votes was immigration, followed by the economy and then by foreign affairs.
However, the survey did not just address if people were voting and what issues they were basing those votes on. The survey also asked respondents possibly the two most central questions to this election, the same two questions that instantly ignite the most heated debates.
According to the survey, 61 of the respondents classified themselves as Democrats. From there, 18 percent of people identified as independents, while 10 percent labeled themselves as Republicans.
This may seem surprising, as the major two parties that are often debated and discussed are Democrat and Republican. But among college students and graduates, Rider’s results stray from the norm, but not in the way many would expect. The Pew Research Center reports that voters with a college degree are most likely to identify as independent. While 39 percent identified as independent in The Pew Research survey, 34 percent called themselves Democrats and only 24 percent identified as Republican.
From there, The Making of The President survey reported that 10 percent of respondents said they were unsure of their party affiliation and 1 percent had no response.
Finally, the consensus of Rider’s choice for president was clear. Sixty-two percent of respondents stated that they intended to vote for Hillary Clinton. Only 10 percent said they would vote for Donald Trump, while Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders and even Ken Bone earned 2 percent of the campus’ vote each.
Again, Rider’s results show a discrepancy against national expectations. As of writing this editorial, Clinton leads in the majority of polls with 47.5 percent stating they will vote for her, while Trump follows close behind with 42.3 percent.
A contributor to the fact that Rider’s reported numbers are different is that 18 percent of respondents didn’t respond to the question of whom they were voting for.
This likely links back to the 15 percent of respondents who said they would not vote. One of the main reasons that this 15 percent offered for not voting is a sentiment that most Americans tend to agree on: they simply do not like either Clinton or Trump. Even USA Today reports that these two candidates are the “most unfavorable” in history, according to the American public.
A sampling of the respondents’ comments explicitly says that people are not voting “because we’re screwed either way,” or “because Trump and Hillary suck and it’s rigged either way.” However, that is not reason enough to avoid the polls next week. These types of answers do not only stem from a lack of understanding of this political system, but also from a resistance to taking this election seriously enough.
This refusal to grasp the severity of the election is also reflected in the fact that 2 percent of respondents actually wrote that they were voting for Ken Bone, who is not even a serious candidate. It is also reinforced by a single person’s response when asked whom he or she is voting for: “I will flip a coin.”
No educated college student should base their election opinions on the change in their pockets. This election will be historic and the stakes are high. We don’t have to be miserable as voting draws nearer. But we should take this seriously.
And if you don’t like Trump or Clinton, cast a vote for a candidate that you do believe in. If you’re not sure who that might be, take these next few days to do your research.
Next Tuesday, every single member of the Rider community, whether they are a student, a professor or a member of the administration, should join the 85 percent of respondents who will be voting. We should ensure that our opinions will live beyond this survey and will be reflected on a ballot influencing the nation’s future. At least then, after Nov. 8, each of us will be able to say that we took part in a political system that so many people fought for us to have.
The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh.
Printed in the 11/2/16 issue.