Many seniors plan to cast ballots for the first time in the Massachusetts presidential primary elections March 1. Of 33 students polled, 28 are likely to support Democratic candidates while five are likely to support Republicans.
Similar to the national electorate, seniors are most concerned about the economy and terrorism, but also mentioned a range of issues from immigration to candidate experience as decision factors.
On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose once-sure path to the nomination has been upended by Vermont Democratic-Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders, appears to be the more popular candidate—but only by a small margin.
“Hillary is the most deserving candidate in this election,” says Alison Gill ’16, who plans to vote for her. “She is the most capable, she has more governmental experience than any of the other candidates—namely Donald Trump— so she has the perspective that is greatly needed for the presidency,” she says.
Olivia Malmstrom ’16, who considers immigration the most important issue also plans plans to vote for Clinton, saying, “race and religion should never affect who let into the country. Hillary understands that as a woman.”
On the other hand, Mia Kundert ’16, a Democrat, plans to vote Sanders. The most important issues to Kundert are combating xenophobia and addressing the Syrian refugee crisis.
“I think that Bernie Sanders is consistent,” Kundert says. “He stands with his beliefs no matter what, and I think that he listens to people.” Kundert adds that she knows at least five other seniors who to plan to support the insurgent candidate.
The overwhelmingly liberal views of Brimmer students are consistent with national trends in age and region; according to a Pew Research report, 60 percent of college students voted for President Obama in the 2012 presidential election, while 36 percent supported Governor Romney. Additionally, Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 3-to-1 in Massachusetts, according to a report by the Secretary of State’s office.
Of the five students likely to support Republican candidates, two are backing real estate mogul Donald Trump, another two are backing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and one is supporting Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
Upper School Senate President Nate Friedman ’16 plans to vote for Trump. “We are afraid to listen, but the government an other politicans will likely support what he says after a certain amount of time anyway,” Friedman says, citing the popularity of Trump’s 2013 calls to bomb ISIS’ oil fields and build a wall along the Mexican border. “He’s right, and it’s time to face that fact.”
After the highly contested Iowa caucus, seniors will remain engaged as the race moves closer to home for the New Hampshire primaries.