In a straw poll conducted by The Reflector, Vermont Senator and Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (D) was the most popular candidate, with 33.3 percent of the overall student vote, more than the next two most-popular candidates combined.
In second place was New York businessman Donald Trump (R) with an even 15 percent and third was Florida neurosurgeon Ben Carson (R) with 12.6 percent of the vote. Despite Sanders’ large victory, Republican candidates still received 56.1 percent of the overall vote to the Democratic candidates’ 43.9 percent. Second place for the Democratic nomination was former U.S. Secretary of State and Senator from New York
Hillary Clinton with 8.5 percent of the vote. Politically, there were nearly twice as many students who identified as Republican, 42.7 percent, as identified as Democratic, 24 percent, with another 22 percent identifying as Independent.
In the poll, students were asked to pick their preference for political candidate from either the Democratic or Republican Party as will be done in the upcoming Indiana primary in May. They also were asked to provide their year, major, political party and intention to vote. Nearly 250 students provided countable results for the poll.
Assistant Professor of History and Political Science Laura Albright was surprised by the number of outlier candidates who gained votes.
“I think there are some interesting results,” Albright said. “Some of the smaller candidates that you wouldn’t think would have that kind of pull got votes. One for Kasich [John Kasich, R-Ohio], five for O’Malley [Martin O’Malley, D-Md.], maybe even four for Huckabee [Mike Huckabee, R-Ark.]. The fact that people found those candidates to be the most intriguing speaks to the ideological spread of the candidates who are available this season. Trump being a high [vote]-getter, [is] not surprising. Sanders, absolutely not surprising. We see Sanders really pulling for the 18-22 demographic, and that is really clear here.”
Sanders has had considerable support from the college-age demographic throughout his campaign. In a Feb. 2 report by “The Atlantic,” he defeated Hillary Clinton, with 84 percent of the vote among people under 30 at exit polling conducted at the Iowa caucuses. He also pulled 58 percent of the 30-44 year old demographic in the same poll. Sophomore political science major Jason Marshall, who was a Sanders supporter in the poll, explained why he thought Sanders has such a large appeal with younger voters.
“The young people don’t have faith in the system anymore,” Marshall said. “I think that is why Bernie Sanders is so appealing to the younger people. I think we are going to see a lot more young voters coming out, which is going to heavily influence it [the Indiana presidential primary].”
According to the straw poll, the young voter turnout would be much higher than the usual percentage. The Indiana Secretary of State’s statistics for 2008, the last year with primaries for both political parties, showed a 40 percent voter turnout statewide with all possible voters. Marion County was even lower at 37 percent. Young voters’ turnout is typically much lower than that. In The Reflector’s straw poll, 48 percent of students indicated that they would vote, and only 15 percent said that they would not. Albright said she was still disappointed with these voter turnout numbers.
“The intention to vote kind of concerns me,” Albright said. “Roughly 48 percent said they would, although maybe people are still making up their minds and trying to look up the candidates.”
With the 2016 presidential election just starting primary voting, there is a long road ahead until the final nominees are determined. Marshall took a guess at who he believed the nominees would be.
“It is going to be real close between Bernie and Clinton,” he said. “I think Secretary Clinton might pull it out. I say it will be her and Marco Rubio [R-Fla.] in the general election.”
More detailed statistics on outlier candidates, votes by political party and intention to vote are available in the complete polling results in the link below.