College campuses are often thought of as microcosms of society in so many ways and when it comes to politics, the notion tends to hold up. On the campus of Marshall University, students are picking and choosing sides in the presidential race and estimating the impact the candidates will have on student voter turnout.
Just like in the general public, Marshall University College students have picked their sides when it comes to which presidential candidate they’ll vote for. Marshall University Student Gretchen Fleming was at the Bernie Sanders rally in Huntington last month.
"I would still vote for Hillary over a Donald Trump because he’s fundamentally everything that is wrong with this country," Fleming said.
Her opinion is pretty common on the Marshall campus. Many students says they’ll vote for their favorite candidate in the primary, but stick with the party nominee in the general, no matter who it is.
Ethan Higginbotham is Sanders supporter, who said that the ground swell of support for Trump could mean more college students will come to the polls.
"I think it’s playing on both sides, I think you have a lot of people coming out to make sure that someone like Donald Trump doesn’t get into the White House, but at the same time you can’t deny that Donald Trump has tapped into something and he’s tapped into the silent majority on the right and that’s terrifying honestly, so I think we need to put our best candidate forward to go up against Trump," Higginbotham said.
But getting young people out to vote has always been a challenging task. This year, however, the contentiousness of the presidential races have pushed young voters to hit the polls. In neighboring Maryland youth participation increased in both party primaries, with 18% voting, up from 15% in 2008. On the Democratic side Sanders received 68% of the youth vote in Maryland, a trend that is likely to be mirrored in young West Virginia voters.
In Pennsylvania 18% of all youth voters between the ages of 18 and 29 participated in their primary on April 26. Young people in Pennsylvania preferred Sanders even though Clinton won the state and 52% of the youth vote on republican side went to Trump.
Nick Uliana is a Marshall University sophomore, he said as a Republican, he’s not a Trump fan, but would vote for the outspoken candidate.
"I would vote for Donald Trump if it got to that situation just because I really don’t like Hillary Clinton, I feel like she’s a criminal in my opinion," Uliana said.
During the previous presidential election in 2012, West Virginia had the lowest voter turnout of any state in the nation with less than half of registered voters turning out to the polls. When it comes to 18 to 24 year olds, less than 23 percent cast ballots in the race. But so far this election cycle, the Secretary of State’s office says 30 thousand more people voted during the first seven days of early voting when compared to 2012.