By Cathryn Lien, Staff Writer
For many of today’s college students, this year’s presidential election is the first in which they are eligible to vote. But how are they voting?
As the presidential primaries continue to dominate national discussion, millennials can hardly avoid the political issues at hand. Students across the nation are quick to add their voice to the debate, but the question of who will they vote for still stands. According to a 2014 study by Pew Research Center, more millennials (people ages 18-33) identify as a Democrat in comparison to their parents’ generation, the “baby boomers.” In the same study, only one third of millennials identify as Republican, and half of millennial Republicans take a mix of liberal and conservative positions.
Asbury students tend to be more conservative. In a recent poll of 221 students, 65 percent said they were Republicans and 25 percent said they were Democrats. Ten percent don’t side with either or favor a third party.
According to a recent NBC News-SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has captured 68 percent of Democratic voters under 24-years-old, despite Hillary Clinton leading the Democrat candidacy. A surveyed commissioned by the Augusta Chronicle showed that although Donald Trump leads the overall Republican vote, Marco Rubio has captured 36 percent of the youth vote compared to Trump’s 28 percent. Trump and Clinton fared poorly in the Collegian’s student poll; with Bernie Sanders earning a slight majority (27 percent) over Marco Rubio (24 percent) and Ben Carson (22 percent).
Some Asbury students are trying to form their own political opinions outside their families’ parties. In a recent survey, about 66 percent of Asbury’s students shared their Republican views with their parents, while about 21 percent identified as Democrat despite their Republican background. The majority of students will vote within their political parties, while about eight percent of Asbury Republicans will vote democrat and two percent of campus Democrats plan to vote Republican.
Having political views that differ from your parents’ is never easy. A communications major in the Anchored class said, “In a home that raised me with the view that ‘liberals were destroying the country’ and ‘Obama was the antichrist,’ I was too ashamed to tell my parents that I changed my voter registration to be a Democrat. I ended up lying about why I had to go to the county clerk’s office that day. However, I knew I wanted Bernie Sanders to lead this country and I couldn’t vote for him in the primaries unless I was a registered Democrat, even though it might break my dad’s heart.”
On the other hand, Parker Touchton, fundraising director for the Asbury College Republicans, feels comfortable defying his parents’ beliefs.
“I personally support Trump,” said Touchton. “I was raised by parents who fall more on the Democratic side, and I was taught to always have an opinion and to be willing to express it. I think Trump does just that. He is self-funding his campaign and is willing to tell people what he thinks.”