November 4, 2016

Majority of GOA Students Back Clinton, Despite Concerns

Aryeh Lande ‘18


          Both mainstream candidates for the presidency are struggling with gaining the trust of the people and this is no different among students at GOA.

This year, the United States is faced with one of its most polarizing elections in recent history. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, the first woman to receive the nomination of a major party, has built her campaign around a call for national unity. She has attracted many minority voters, yet is perceived to represent the established political process.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump overcame 16 primary challengers to secure his party’s nomination. He has attracted a mostly white voter base and his message resonates with those fed up with the current system. Though these two nominees prevailed through their parties’ primaries, the majority of Americans are unsatisfied with their options this November.

They feel both candidates, each embroiled with their own scandals and issues, are more focused on smearing each other than they are on solving the issues relevant to this country. According to a July Gallup Poll, 25 percent of Americans see both candidates as unfavorable.  This, along with voter turnout only nearing 60 percent, according to the non-profit FairVote, shows Americans’ confidence in their political choices nears a record low. This uncertainty has polarized Americans and forced many to back candidates because they despise the other choice.

The Flame set out to see how GOA students compare with the American electorate and polled them about the honesty of the candidates.

In an August Quinnipiac survey, 42 percent of voters said they thought Trump was honest while only 27 percent of voters said that they thought Clinton was an honest candidate. GOA students are nearly identical to the national average regarding Clinton whereas, they are far more skeptical of Trump. When asked, 28 percent of students say they trust Clinton while, shockingly, only 16 percent say they trust Trump.

This number is 26 points below the national average, a sharp decrease. The result makes sense, however, as in response to another question, 76 percent of students chose Clinton over Trump when asked who was more trustworthy. Still, it is concerning that the leading candidate only has the confidence of a mere 28 percent of students when asked outright about the individual candidate’s trustworthiness.

The turmoil and distrust in this election has created the milieu suitable for the rise of a third party candidate. Once known as fringe candidates, names like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are creeping their way into the forefront of media attention. Johnson, especially, has surprised opponents by receiving upwards of 10 percent of support in the polls.

The Quinnipiac survey asked voters if they would consider a third party candidate and over one third, 37 percent, said they would. GOA students are more open to the idea with 60 percent of students saying they would consider a third party candidate. With such a strong desire for a new voice in the election, it is apparent anything can happen.

It is clear that GOA students are outspokenly disgruntled by the choices in this year’s election. With so much controversy and rhetoric in the media, voters are sick and tired of the two options. To many, it has simply become a battle of the lesser of two evils. Instead of a fight to win the confidence of the electorate, it has become a competition to convince America the other party is worse than your own.

        At GOA, the effects of this grueling strategy are clear, as there is little confidence in the candidates. Although a third party candidate may not be the clear choice, it still sends a strong message when over half of those asked would consider a third party candidate this late in the election. With so little confidence and so much uncertainty, it will be interesting to see how this election turns out. Hopefully, Americans will vote with their hearts rather than their angst.

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