With approximately 15,000 eligible voters attending Cal Poly, students make up nearly one-third of the total voting population in San Luis Obispo. The upcoming primary and general election features out-of-the-ordinary candidates: a self-proclaimed socialist, a business man with no political experience and a preceding first lady. With such a diverse group of candidates, many students are still unsure of who to support.
How Cal Poly students are politically influenced
As the elections quickly come into view, social media has become a major platform for some candidates to garner hype.
However, most Cal Poly students, who responded to Mustang News’ 100-person survey did their own research on candidates as opposed to solely relying on social media influences. Many had pulled away from their parents’ political affiliation as well.
Cal Poly’s party preferences
Cal Poly’s candidate preferences
“Why shouldn’t someone vote for Donald Trump? There’s a lot of answers to that. I think if anyone wants to answer that, they can look at his Twitter feed,” economics sophomore and active member of Cal Poly Democrats Sebastian Hamirani said.
Hamirani is referring to words tweeted by Trump that have been seen as demeaning toward women, and are said to promote racial tensions.
“I don’t think that’s the type of attitude we need at the White House,” Hamirani said.
How do registered Republicans feel about this?
“Not very proud,” business administration senior Ryan Dennehy said, without hesitation. “I feel like in the beginning everyone was like — ‘Oh it’s a joke, he’s never going to make it this far’ … So, I think the rest of the world is kind of laughing with us at the fact that he’s an actual candidate.”
However, not everyone is laughing.
City and regional planning sophomore Hunter Kelly is all smiles while reflecting on his first encounter with the politician.
“I was working during the summer, and I first heard his announcement on the radio. I was thinking, ‘Okay, these are some alright ideas, it’s a shame that won’t gain any public traction,’” Kelly said. “Time went on and he was gaining public traction and I thought, ‘the madman can actually do it, people are actually listening.”
Kelly, who wears the same red “Make America Great Again” hat seen on Trump, not only favors the politician’s economic policies to protect American workers and manufactures, but also his foreign policy.
“He was sort of the magical candidate for me, that sort of appeared out of the back of my mind,” Kelly said. “From a young age, I’ve always kind of hoped for a president or politician or something along the lines of a guy that just likes America. That likes protecting America, that wants to promote American prosperity among the globe.”
Environmental earth and soil sciences freshman Olivia Mann said she opposes Trump’s policies. However, when asked why someone should vote for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, she didn’t hesitate to answer as a smile appeared on her face.
“I think people should vote Bernie because of his affordable college plans,” Mann said, “and he actually seems to care about the well-being of the citizens of the U.S.”
While cheaper college tuition may appeal to millennials, others think that it’s a little too good to be true. Al Fonzi, chairman of the Republican party for San Luis Obispo county, said there isn’t enough money in the country to fund Sanders’ proposals and would destroy economic opportunity for our generation.
“If you like having poor economic prospects, vote for Sanders as working at Starbucks will seem like a good career by the time he’s finished with the economy,” Fonzi said.
For political science sophomore and registered Republican Ivana Medina, it was all about commonality.
“I think that Hillary Clinton is the person that has most of the policies I support, but not even all of them at all, but she’s the closest one,” Medina said.
Aerospace engineering senior Arseniy Kotov disagrees.
“She already has a bad track record. She’s under investigation with the FBI, they’re probably going to wait until the Democratic primaries happen to see if she gets chosen or not, but obviously she has a lot of power and pull in the government and the system,” Kotov said. “But that’s already a show if she’s already kind of corrupt, if she’s above the law or whatever or if she’s above procedures — like if you can’t follow them, then how do you expect everyone else in this country to follow them.”
So what about students who don’t agree with any policies at all? Sometimes, it means simply not voting at all.
“Just seeing both the candidates, it’s kind of hard to even find commonalities with both of them or either of them,” Kotov said. “Voting for a third party candidate is kind of a waste of your time because it’s not likely that they’re going to be elected. So right now I’m honestly thinking of not voting.”
Kotov isn’t alone in this either. The number of young adult voting has been generally underwhelming for quite some time: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, young adult voters between the ages of 18 and 24 have consistently voted at lower rates than all other age groups in every presidential election since 1962.
The big question everyone is asking is, “Will it really make a difference if I don’t vote?”
“In a practical sense, every vote counts. We passed a local measure a few years ago by four votes,” Pat Harris, chairman of the Democratic party for San Luis Obispo county, said. “We have had local supervisor races decided with only a couple of hundred vote difference. Every vote does count!”
It seems as though the closer we get to election season, the more confused people are becoming. Some are even calling this election the first of its kind.
“Last election, it was Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama. And it was two respected, status quo kind of politicians who were moderate right and moderate left,” psychology senior Jake Wyman said. “And this election has been completely different.”
Wyman is referring to the 2012 presidential election where young voters were one of the key voting blocks in electing President Obama. He won the 18-to-29-year-old vote over Romney.
So what’s the right thing to do? Vote without passion, or not vote at all?
“It’s the simplest thing you could do,” Wyman said. “I feel bad saying this, but even if you hate all of them, chose the one you hate the least, or maybe research alternate decisions. Or just check out other parties or independents. Just vote. That’s all you really need to do. It’s one of the only things you need to do, it’s one of your only duties as a citizen. Yeah, I’m voting.”