With Millennials comprising a third of the electorate in the 2016 presidential election, it is fair to ask: Who will they be voting for?
Currently, national and local polls are showing Democrat Hillary Clinton obtaining the majority of the youth vote, with Republican Donald Trump coming in second. Around a quarter of young voters have also leaned more towards third party options such as Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party Candidate Jill Stein.
According to Harvard’s Institute of Politics in a poll posted on October 26, Clinton received the bulk of the votes with 49 percent while Trump received 21 percent. Johnson took home 14 percent and Stein with 5 percent.
In New Mexico, a poll commissioned by the NM Political Report shows mixed results among young voters.
Collin Keeton, a senior at the University of New Mexico (UNM), says the youth are often overlooked by politicians and feel their voices are not heard by any of the presidential candidates.
“I think politicians don’t really care as much for young voters because they [politicians] think they don’t care or they’re not as knowledgeable as older folks,” Keeton said.
Throughout the 2016 primary election, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, gained many young supporters with his policies. Nearing Election Day, Clinton and Trump have not attracted young voters, leaving many undecided.
The Youth Support For The Presidential Candidates
According to the poll conducted by The New Mexico Political Report in August, young voters in New Mexico, ages 18 to 29, favored Clinton over Trump 45 percent for Clinton and 15 percent for Trump. There has not been an update on this data.
Sabrina Bhakta, 19, says the presidential election is astounding.
“I can’t believe that it is where it is at this point,” Bhakta said. “And even though they’re both awful, I’m going to vote for Hillary.”
The national poll conducted by Pew Research Center in early August, shows 38 percent of young voters said they would vote for Clinton while 27 percent would vote for Trump. The data from Harvard’s Institute of Politics shows a rise in the young voters who will vote for Clinton and a decline in the young voters who will vote for Trump.
In the NM Political Report poll, Johnson garners 20 percent of New Mexico’s young voters, passing Trump’s 15 percent and Stein’s 4 percent.
The New Mexico Political Report poll shows 17 percent of New Mexico’s young voters are undecided. According to data from Reuters Polling, young voters make up over 6 percent of undecided voters.
“We don’t have the best presidential candidates,” said Shae Navarrete, a 23 year-old voter.
Additionally, Reuters Polling found that over 13 percent of 18 to 29 year olds are leaning towards NOT voting.
Nathaniel Gutierrez, 24, says that he plans on not voting.
“This whole election was just so disappointing,” Gutierrez said. “I can’t bring myself to vote for any of the candidates.”
The Significance of the Youth Support for Each Candidate
Andy Lyman, journalist for the New Mexico Political Report, said he was not surprised by the youth support for Clinton.
“I think there were a significant amount of people that were on the ‘Bernie or Bust’ bus and many of them seem really disaffected by both Clinton and Trump,” Lyman said. “At the same time, many Sanders supporters probably see Clinton as the next best option.”
UNM sophomore Maryssa Chavez,19, said she is disappointed in the election.
“I don’t think that the two primary candidates are the most qualified individuals to run this country,” Chavez said. “Although, in the general election I will be voting for Hillary.”
According to Common Dreams, Clinton and Sanders have proposed to make in-state college tuition free for the majority of U.S. families. They also proposed bringing back year-round Pell Grants for students who take summer classes. Additionally, both politicians proposed to give students a three month break to assess finances before starting to pay back student loans.
The rising numbers of Johnson and Stein reflect the voters’ dissatisfaction with Clinton and Trump.
Although Johnson’s views on college tuition and student loan forgiveness differ from Sanders’, he still has a good amount of young supporters.
According to The American Prospect, Johnson does not have a stance on college affordability because government assistance is not a priority of the Libertarian party. Johnson’s tax plan involves getting rid of income tax and replacing it with national sales tax which could possibly put more pressure on Millennials. In addition, while Sanders fought for the government to take action on climate change, Johnson says government should not be responsible for the fight against global warming.
Navarrete says she would not put her vote towards a third party candidate.
“I wouldn’t consider voting for a third party candidate just because I don’t really know very much about them and I’d rather vote for someone who I know what they stand for,” Navarrette said.
When asked about Johnson’s rising support by young voters, Lyman said he thinks part of it may be his stance on legalizing marijuana.
“This generation of college students have a whole different perspective on legalization than previous generations do,” Lyman said.
According to a Research & Polling Inc. poll, 82 percent of New Mexican young voters would vote for marijuana legalization whereas 15 percent would oppose and 2 percent are undecided.
Young voters like Keeton say neither Trump or Clinton are fit for presidency, but do not want to vote for a third party candidate.
“To be honest if I had a choice I’d rather elect Obama to a third term,” said Keeton. “I don’t think they [Trump and Clinton] are representing the country very well and people just see it as a joke.”
At the beginning of the election Keeton said he leaned toward Republican candidate Dr. Ben Carson. With Election Day growing closer, he is one of the 13.6 percent who are considering not voting.
Navarrete says she is also considering not voting, but if she decides to vote it might be for Clinton.
Lyman says many voters will likely stay undecided until Election Day.
Corey Farmer, 23, is waiting until Election Day to make his decision.
“I think it’s gonna come down to as soon as I get to the ballot,” Farmer said. “I’ll pick right there at the top of my head.
Chavez says she has high hopes for Clinton, but acknowledges the need for a president who is willing to listen and put in work.
“I hope she can hear the American people’s voices and understand that our country is in a bad place right now,” Chavez said, “We need a positive change now more than ever in American history.”