Youth vote could decide Boone County

Clinton and Trump are positioned to face off in “a time for choosing.”

As April came to an end, so did a few presidential contenders’ hopes of easily securing their party’s nomination.

Bernie Sanders trails Hillary Clinton by an average of nearly 9 percent — millions of votes — in polls in remaining states. Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out of the GOP race, leaving only Donald Trump.

The presumptive GOP nominee followed up a five-state sweep in the “Acela Primary” with a decisive win Tuesday in Indiana, closing the door on his remaining opponents.

What likely remains is what Ronald Reagan would have called “a time for choosing.” At this point, Clinton and Trump appear poised to face off in the general election. It’s been a polarizing race, with no shortage of drama, and it looks to heat up heading into November. With this in mind, it’s important to take an in-depth look at the voting history of Boone County, the recent voting trends of college students and the positions of the two candidates.

Trends in Boone County

Boone County, home to three mid-Missouri colleges, has been a fascinating electoral hub through the past few election cycles. According to the Boone County Clerk, the county has been hotly contested over the years. In 2004, George W. Bush defeated John Kerry by just 158 votes, an unbelievably small margin. In 2008, Obama defeated John McCain by less than 2,500 votes. In 2012, Barack Obama easily won the precinct, despite Mitt Romney notching a convincing win statewide. This March, just 1,965 out of 939,270 Missouri primary votes separated winner Donald Trump from runner-up Ted Cruz.

2014 marked a dramatic drop in Boone County voting participation, with only 35 percent of eligible voters casting a ballot. While 2014 was a midterm election year and those generally see lower turnout than presidential election years, the county saw more than 50 percent turn out for the 2002 and 2004 midterm elections. The recent national decline in voter participation coincides with the decline of college student voting.

According to the Campus Vote Project, turnout rates for voters under 30 have been historically low in recent years, even though this demographic makes up over 20 percent of the eligible electorate. In 2014, a year that saw a pivotal U.S. Senate election, 42 percent of young adults were registered to vote, and only 17 percent cast a ballot.

It has been a growing point of emphasis for both parties to capture young voters, and this is perhaps no more evident than in Clinton’s efforts to persuade Bernie Sanders’ young base to coalesce behind her. This November will determine whether the young vote rebounds, or continues falling past 40-year record lows.

The Front-Runners

Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton is a former lawyer, first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state. She was raised a Republican, and campaigned for presidential nominee Barry Goldwater in 1964, but declared herself a Democrat by her senior year of college.

She lost the 2008 Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, but she appears to be in good position to carry the torch for the party this year.

Clinton is not without scandal and is currently under investigation for decisions she made involving an American compound in Benghazi, Libya, and her use of a private email server during her tenure at the State Department.

She is a champion for universal health care coverage, and made history during her time as first lady when she was appointed to lead President Bill Clinton’s Task Force On National Health Care Reform. According to OnTheIssues, Clinton also supports pro-choice policies, increased public education funding and an emphasis on American civil rights. She has a mixed record on free-trade agreements and currently opposes NAFTA. She is viewed as hawkish amongst some liberals due to her support of military foreign intervention, including her vote in favor of the Iraq War, anti-terrorism measures and the PATRIOT Act.

Donald Trump While many view a potential Hillary Clinton presidency as a third Obama term, nobody can be sure what a Donald Trump presidency would look like. As recently as 2004, Trump has been a self-identified Democrat. In recent election cycles such as the 2012 presidential election, he began to publically toy with the idea of running for the GOP nomination. Trump is seen as an influential businessman, and the billionaire has maintained a strong public presence through roles in NBC’s The Apprentice, numerous commercials and even Home Alone 2.

His immigration and economic positions are both departures from the political norm. Perhaps most notably, a chief component of his platform is the plan to build a massive border wall between the U.S. and Mexico to help stop illegal immigration. He also has proposed deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants, a plan many see as unfeasible. He has an unclear stance on abortion, claiming that he has changed his lifelong stance to now be pro-life, but still supported the merits of Planned Parenthood at a CNN debate.

Economically, Trump is more in line with traditional Republican values. He is strongly in favor of fossil fuels and reducing government spending to balance the federal budget. However, he has made the controversial proposal to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Education, though Wolf Blitzer expressed at a CNN debate that his proposed cuts would fall well short of correcting the deficit.

Success with young voters

In a poll released this month by the Harvard University Institute of Politics, Hillary Clinton displayed a commanding national lead over voters under 30 given a hypothetical choice between the former secretary of state and the businessman.

Out of about 3,000 respondents, 61 percent said they would vote for Clinton, and just 25 percent said they would vote for Trump.

Young voters typically tend to vote Democratic, especially since 2006 according to Gallup, but Trump’s 25 percent support is historically low among this demographic. In fact, the only Republican nominee to receive less than 30 percent support from young voters since modern exit polling began in 1972 was Ronald Reagan.

Missouri held its presidential primaries on March 15. Missourians will then vote in the general election on Nov. 8. The deadline to register is Oct. 12, and the minimum age requirement to register is 17 years and six months. To be eligible to vote in November, all voters must be at least 18 years of age, U.S. citizens and Missouri residents.

Out-of-state students can research their home states’ procedures for absentee voting.

To register, voters can fill out the registration form at showmeboone.com.

Edited by Kyra Haas | khaas@themaneater.com

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