This past fall, I took part in a tabling effort for my College Republicans chapter on the commons of my predominately liberal college campus. We gave out flyers with information about our weekly meetings for the semester to those who passed by, along with free promotional items like koozies, stickers, and pens. We joked that this might be the only time you’d catch Republicans giving handouts.
I was shocked by the number of students who responded negatively, facing us with a stand-offish attitude or even blatantly stating “I don’t know what I am” with regard to their political affiliation. The realization that something I am so passionate seemed to be a non-issue for many of my peers stirred an unsettling feeling within me. This was even more shocking considering that my college, Longwood University, will have the distinct privilege of hosting the 2016 Vice Presidential debate come October.
Despite the media’s representation of how popular the upcoming election will be, only four percent of eligible Iowa voters under the age of 30 took part in the presidential caucus on the first of the month. However, the youth voter turnout in Iowa was the second-highest in the last 20 years at 11.2 percent, signaling that young voter activism is on the rise.
And who were young voters showing up to support? NPR reported that young Iowans showed the most support for Sen. Cruz, with Sen. Rubio following closely behind and Trump trailing behind. I was not suprised by these results. In fact, in a consensus among attendees of our College Republicans meeting on the Tuesday after the Iowa caucuses, we felt that movements like Students for Rubio played a role in Sen. Rubio’s triumph over Trump that didn’t carry over to the general outcome.
On the left, eighty-four percent of young liberals supported Sen. Sanders in the Iowa caucuses, while Sen. Clinton received only 14 percent. From my personal observations on Snapchat, Facebook, and my liberal campus, I’ve definitely seen a strong amount of support for Bernie among my peers. And it scares me. I don’t want to “feel the Bern.” Self proclaimed Socialist Sen. Sanders’s support of “free college” will come with a price, but the social liberals are blinded by this (along with his promises to legalize marijuana).
Just as we hear with every other election, the youth vote will play a critical role in November’s results. If we as college conservatives can wake up more of our peers who are blindly wandering our campuses, we can help secure America’s future.