“Look out, Hillary Clinton! Bernie Sanders is right behind you!” That’s what national polls should say.
While Clinton’s approval among Democrats slipped in April from 48 percent to 43 percent, Sanders skyrocketed in March from 12 percent to 25 percent. He shows no signs of slowing down. A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows that Sanders leads
Clinton by a wide margin in Iowa and New Hampshire, two key swing states for the 2016 presidential election.
“As a college student, I feel like he appeals to people in my age group,” said first-year Erik Carlsen. “I feel like he’s looking out for us.”
Carlsen clearly isn’t the only college student who feels this way. According to a Chegg poll last week, 59 percent of college students plan to vote for Sanders, compared to a 18 percent for Clinton.
Sophomore Marisol Espinosa had only good things to say about Sanders, citing his record of advocacy. “He has always had a voice in what is right. He knows how to be a proper ally in terms of women’s rights, rights of people of color and social injustices.”
Quenessa Long, another sophomore, had similar praise for him. “Bernie is someone who’s outspoken about what he believes in, so it’s easier to trust him. You know what he’s fighting for.”
In contrast, students who support more conservative political causes don’t harbor much Bern-ing love.
First-year Kaylee Fiedler was skeptical of his views on defense.
“I don’t agree with Bernie Sanders’ idea of demilitarizing the police and cutting back drastically on military spending,” she said. “I think those are very important. That’s what keeps us safe.”
Philip Passantino, a junior who currently serves as president for Students for Life, wasn’t impressed with Sanders’ economic policy.
“Even though he’s a socialist, he’s representing what the Democratic Party is becoming,” he said. “That’s very in the vein of European socialism, which hasn’t worked out so far.”
Hillary Clinton, deemed “a bit of a wild card” by first-year student Haedon Brunelle, evokes a more diverse set of reactions than Sanders.
“I think Clinton is a good candidate because she’s in the middle of the road for all of her policies,” said senior Foster Robertson.“That’s more likely to get through a very divided Congress than what many other candidates are proposing.”
Sophomore Carly Stauffer has far less confidence in Clinton’s abilities. “It’s very clear that Clinton jeopardized our national security with her email scandal,” she said. “There’s no way she would be a competent leader.”
Long, like the majority of Lutes interviewed, had mixed feelings about Clinton. “She’s a very educated and very knowledgeable woman with a lot of experience,” she said. “Talking about injustice overall, I don’t think she does a good job of addressing it.”
Clinton and Sanders may both be Democrats, but many Lutes concluded that there is one key difference between the candidates: Sanders seems more trustworthy than Clinton.
“I don’t think that [Sanders and Clinton] have that many differing opinions on things,” said Passantino, “but at least Bernie is honest.”
Fiedler shared similar concerns. “Clinton’s very unpredictable. We’ve seen that in the scandal that has happened. Bernie’s very predictable. I believe that he will fulfill all the things he wants to fulfill.”
Long summed up liberal and conservative opinions perfectly. “I think it’s important to notice how much trust [Clinton] doesn’t have from the nation,” she said. “People are falling in love with Bernie really fast, and people have known Hillary for a long time but are still controversial about her.”
The Lutes featured in this article represent a wide array of political viewpoints. Yet, if forced to vote between Clinton and Sanders, all but one of them would choose Sanders for president.
Many politically liberal students, such as Brunelle, immediately ‘voted’ for Sanders because they preferred his ideology and transparency.
“He spends a lot more time advocating what he wants to see out of the U.S.,” explained Brunelle. “He wants to focus on the future and how to make America’s future better, and how to make America great again, whereas Hillary spends more time attacking people on the Republican side. We don’t really know her game plan yet.”
Students who supported more conservative political causes “voted” for Sanders because they saw him as the lesser of two evils.
“At least he’s well-spoken,” said Stauffer. “At least he knows how to talk. Hillary Clinton is not good at talking. She’s in the midst of a huge scandal right now. Even though I don’t agree with Sanders’ viewpoints, at least he’s not drowning in a scandal. I understand Democrats who vote for Sanders. I don’t understand Democrats who vote for Clinton.”
“He’s at least predictable,” added Fiedler. “He’s really radical and he’s going to do what he’s saying he’s going to do if he gets elected as president. You don’t know exactly what Clinton is going to do.”
Robertson, the only student who didn’t ‘vote’ for Sanders, felt so torn between the candidates that he couldn’t make a decision.
“I really don’t know,” he said after a long pause. “I really like the ideas of one side whereas I like the moderate route of another.”
Currently, Clinton is still in the lead for the Democratic nomination. But if PLU is at all representative of the nation at large, it appears that Sanders, rather than party favorite Clinton, will win the bigger prize.