A recent poll conducted by “The Lance” of first time voters within the Gilmour Academy community found that Bernie Sanders was by far the most favored candidate. Of the 28 respondents, 10 selected the 76 year old Senator from Vermont as ‘most favorable’ whereas the next most favorable candidates, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and John Kasich received only 4, 3, and 3, respectively.

In addition, the results of the poll showed that far more first time voters at Gilmour self-identify as Democrats. Nearly 48% of respondents selected ‘Democrat’ with only 14% of respondents choosing ‘Republican’ as their political affiliation. A large proportion of the population selected either ‘None’ or ‘Independent’ as their chosen alliance collectively making up over 33% of respondents.

In spite of this clear division, far more respondents who selected ‘None’ or ‘Independent’ as their political alliance chose Republican candidates as their most favorable. With 52% of respondents choosing a Democratic candidate, 33% choosing a Republican candidate and 15% choosing a candidate who was not listed.

On a scale of 1 to 9, on average, respondents who selected either ‘Independent’ or ‘None’ as their party said that they lean more towards ‘center-left’ political ideologies. Among Republicans, respondents noted that their ideologies, on average, trended more towards ‘center-right’. This parallels respondents who chose ‘Democrat’ whose responses were, on average, far stronger towards the left; 46% of self-identified Democrats noted their views to be strongly socialist.

The poll consisted of an online, anonymous questionnaire emailed to 60 randomly selected members of the senior class who would be likely eligible to vote by the time of the general election in November of 2016. Of the 60 selected, 28 responded which corresponds to around 24% of the senior class. Of those chosen to respond to the questionnaire, about half were male and about half were female. The questionnaire did not ask whether the respondent was male or female. Therefore, the demographics of respondents are unknown. In addition, given the proportions of the senior class, it is not possible to create a normal distribution. The poll was a voluntary response poll and therefore did not require those selected to respond. This could present a bias because people of certain political ideologies could feel more compelled to respond. Because of this, these results must be understood as only a general random sampling of political opinions and not necessarily a true representation of political opinions at Gilmour. In addition, the poll closed February 15th before a number of candidates dropped out of the race. They were still included for the sake of accuracy.

Analysis:

The first time voter demographic has become the coveted demographic to candidates wishing to win the presidency. According to the Census Bureau of The United States, 18-24 year olds have the worst voting turnout of any voter demographic. The reason why political candidates vie for the votes of the 18-24 year old demographic is because they are often their political opinions are the most malleable. Many people of this demographic are beginning to form their own political opinions who, unlike that of older demographics, are willing to change their views more freely. In “The Lance’s” poll a clear majority of respondents noted that their political opinions differ greatly from that of their parents. Mr. Richard Doringo, Instructor in Social Studies, “If young people vote, their candidate will win…[W]hen they do vote, like they did in 2008, they can really push a candidate further.” This is why candidates in recent elections have worked much harder to mobilize this age group.

When asked about first time voters compared to their parents, Doringo noted, “They are more savvy. Not only do they have the tech resources at their fingertips, they know how to use it better to inform themselves and consequently be more knowledgeable voters.

They are also more particular voters. Sometimes I think older generations vote because they feel they have to, or should, and often will vote for candidates they don’t know a lot about, either by name recognition or party. Polls show that younger voters will not vote if they feel they don’t have a good grasp on issues and candidates. That’s why it’s important that they feel engaged in the process.”

In order to reach this demographic, many candidates have launched aggressive social media campaigns. Unsurprisingly, the highest polling candidates nationally have more aggressive social media campaigns. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump captains a Twitter account with over 6.1 million followers as of February. His account also has put forth more than 30,000 tweets since it’s conception. Trump has a greater Twitter presence than any of his competitors. Similarly, Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton boasts well over 5.3 million followers and more than 4,000 tweets.

Senator Sanders trumps every other candidate with dominion over both YouTube and Reddit- both sites popular among the 18-24 year old demographic. Sanders claims over 176,000 subscribers between his two YouTube accounts and his support on reddit far exceeds that of any other candidate. This being one of the factors behind his unexpected rise to prominence early on in this election.

Students have noted that many of the hot button issues of this election are ones they personally feel are important. Issues such as international relations One student noted, “I think that a lot of our importance as a country is focused on how we work with other nations because out world is ever globalizing and we need to keep in tune with the word around us. Also equal rights, but thats a very broad topic. Not only to different races but to religions as well because it was something that our country was founded on and is something that is weak in the political field right now.”