It’s a match-up of presidential proportion. And as their fateful clash in the 2016 election comes within two weeks, seniors are preparing to either vote for the first time or simply watch the voting play out on Nov. 8.
Clinton’s lead in favorability among Webster students is due in part to the fact that in Missouri, the metropolitan counties of Kansas City and St. Louis tend to vote liberal much more than the rural communities.
It can also be explained by the general lead Clinton has nationally among Millennial voters. A USA Today poll in October found that 68 percent of Millennials backed Clinton to just 20 percent with Trump.
“The Millennials are becoming the largest generation in the country, so obviously it’s important that people in our generation vote,” senior Patrick Schrank, a vocal supporter of Clinton, said. “A lot more people in our generation have become so turned off by politics in general that they just don’t want to pay attention at all.”
Senior Tully Smith has supported Trump since the primaries and has attended rallies of the Republican nominee’s.
“I just don’t see the results coming for a younger generation such as ourselves for what President Obama has given so far, and I just believe that Hillary Clinton will continue exactly what President Obama has put in place,” Smith said. “So what I’m thinking is that maybe we need to refresh a different economy and different views to see if that could possibly help bring change to what we currently have with the problems going on in our youth,” Smith said.
Still, in an election cycle filled with controversy, many students have found it hard to support a candidate at all.
In the ECHO survey, 30.8 percent of seniors surveyed said they are either undecided or not backing a candidate at all.
“That is detrimental for a democracy because when people don’t turn out, it’s easier for bad people to get elected and for bad decisions to be made,” Schrank said. “Because if nobody’s paying attention, who’s going to be holding these people accountable?”
Senior Ben Keller, who ordinarily identifies as a Progressive but adamantly opposes both candidates in this election, shared his unique philosophy that’s become more commonly seen during this election cycle.
“While I quite obviously want Clinton to win, I simply cannot vote for her out of respect to my progressive morals,” Keller said. “Her track record of corporatist decisions, as well as some questionable judgement and collaboration with ‘inside people’ in Washington, I cannot support. Trump is extremely unfit to be president; his words and actions show that he is an egotistical narcissist with a lack of even the most basic political knowledge.”
Schrank observed “this trend where are people are saying that they don’t like either [candidate] because they feel like it’s becoming the majority opinion, and so they’re kind of fitting in by saying that they don’t like either of them.”
Keller, on the other hand, said, “I think there is pressure from the major parties to vote for a candidate … but to actually go and vote ‘none of the above’ is minority dissenting opinion.”
So why do the most loyal of supporters stand by their choice of candidate?
“I do see Trump as a somewhat rash person. He doesn’t necessarily think through everything he puts out on social media,” Smith said, “but I also think that draws in a lot of supporters. He has a certain meaning he’s trying to express, and I understand it myself. He comes off as mean and hateful to a lot of people, but I just don’t see that aspect as much as I do looking for the meaning in what he’s saying.”
Smith added, “I just didn’t see the energy coming from all the liberal supporters as I did in all the conservative supporters with Trump. I didn’t see positivity coming from any of the liberals as a group.”
In support of Clinton, Schrank said, “She may not be this ideological purist that people want, but she has made some very good proposals on social policy and economic policy that could really help low income people see more gains.”
About Trump, Schrank said, “He says this whole ‘Make America Great Again’ thing, and all of these people are very much afraid of the social changes going on in our country right now, and that’s a major motivator. The progress that is being made socially in our country is something to be celebrated, that we’re expanding perspectives and that we are listening to new voices, but there are always going to be some people who want to keep things the same.”
“I feel that we are stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Keller said. “While Clinton needs to be elected president, I think that her winning would quell a populist voice that has become so loud in this election through both Trump and Sanders, albeit in very different ways.”