For the past two months, thousands of middle and high school students have been using StudySync’s On the Campaign Trail Blasts series to consider some of the most important political questions of our time.
As their Blast responses roll in and the election draws closer, we wanted to offer StudySync users and the general public a glimpse into what young people are saying about the 2016 election. Here are 5 takeaways from student responses so far:
More students say they support Hillary Clinton than any other candidate
In a September 7th Blast titled “Road to the Presidency,” we asked students nationwide how we might improve the election process and which candidate they were supporting in the 2016 election. More than 12,000 students responded. Who pulled ahead in our student poll?
The top rated blasts indicate our students like the idea of move to a popular vote and away from the electoral college. "The country should make everyone's vote worth the same amount of power because it is not fair if one state is worth more than another," said Andrew K. "To improve the election process, remove the electoral college. People are left without a word while larger states have an unfair advantage," from AtrociousTori. From Anonymous, "I don't think we should use the electoral college system. The candidate that gets the most votes from citizens, should win presidency."
Hillary Clinton won the largest share of student votes, with 30.5 percent. Donald Trump received about half as many students votes as Clinton, with 15.2 percent. Just over 19 percent of students said they would prefer a third-party candidate, while 8.1 percent said they weren’t sure yet. Meanwhile, 26.9 percent of students said that even if they were old enough to vote, they wouldn’t—these students weren’t excited about any of the candidates.
On Election Day, we’ll be asking students this question again. Will their opinions be different? Will they predict the results of the general election? Stay tuned—we’ll share those results when they come in.
Students say most young voters will vote for Hillary Clinton, or not vote at all
In our Blast titled “The Body Politic,” we asked students which candidate they thought most young people would support in 2016. Of the 1,000 students who answered the poll, more than 40 percent said young people would vote for Hillary Clinton. “With liberal movements spreading through the nation, young activists will vote for the candidate that supports the change they want to see,” one student wrote.
Still, some students aren’t convinced young people will vote at all—nearly 30 percent of respondents said they didn’t think millennial voters would head to the polls this year.
Students do recognize the changing American electorate as well. "As American voters change every four years, their ethnicity and gender play a large role in the candidate they will select."
A majority of students say the vice presidential pick is “somewhat” important in deciding their vote
In a poll of 2,400 students alongside our Blast titled “Right-Hand Man,” 59 percent of respondents said a candidate’s choice of running mate would “somewhat’ influence their vote for president.
Asked what qualities were important in a vice president, students’ answers varied. “I think that the vice president needs to be able to be on their feet in an instant. They also need to have the same mindset as the president,” one student responded. “Knowledge, calmness, and the ability to never give up” are the most important attributes, another student said. "I think that a vice president should show that they want to be president some day and is a strong leader. They also have to be prepared," said another.
In their answers, some students considered the fact that a vice president could one day lead the country. As one student replied, “Some important attributes that must be in a vice president are sternness and good composure because they might have to be president.”
Most students don’t support the idea of building a wall on the southern border of the United States
In the Blast titled “Law and Border,” just over 2,300 students responded to a poll about immigration policy in America. An overwhelming 78 percent said a border wall would be the wrong move for the United States. “I think immigrants should be welcomed into our country. The U.S is already made up of immigrants so we should not be discriminating,” one student said.
Still, some students disagree. One student replied, “I think that we need to have a stronger security system at the border and that the immigrants need to have proof that allows them to cross.”
Students think presidential debates need restructuring
“Presidential debates have changed dramatically over the years. Now instead of answering question our candidates choose to attack each other,” one student wrote in a response to the Blast “Setting the Stage.” MerkMusic said, "The presidential debates have changed greatly over the years by becoming more violent and only focusing on the opponents rather than issues." Students also recognize how live TV coverage and social media have transformed debates. "Presidential debates have changed over the years by the people being able to react live and people can share their thoughts on social media."
Results of our poll of almost 4,300 students matched the same sentiment. Thirty-six percent of students said we should change the format of debates to give candidates more time to talk about the issues.