Why the 2016 Election Fails to Excite Young People


(Photos: BU Rob13/Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)

By Grace Geraghty

The 2016 presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has done perhaps the worst job of exciting young citizens than any other in modern history. Often pegged — by both major parties — as a choice for the lesser of two evils, this election, to be held Tuesday, Nov. 8, has managed to frustrate 70 percent of Americans, according to an Associated Press-NORC poll.

Niles West students share a similar overall view of this election. Many have become disillusioned with both candidates, as well as American politics on a broader scale.

Junior Nate Glancy is not enthused about both candidates.

“As far as I’m concerned, this election doesn’t seem great,” he said. “Both candidates act like children and don’t seem like credible leaders.”

Senior Lejla Vojnikovic, who supported Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, remains apprehensive about the election, though she would give her unequivocal support to Clinton over Trump.

“I’m honestly kind of nervous more than anything for the outcome of this election. I mean, I’m not too enthusiastic about either candidate, but one would have my vote 100 percent over the other,” she explained. “I don’t want to see our country run by someone who is a racist, sexist bigot; it’s not really what American needs right now. But I think it will be interesting to see how our country votes and turns out to the polls. I think it will prove what kind of nation we want to be.”

Students, such as junior Sean Collins, seem to think either candidate would face difficulties with their presidencies.

“If Trump is elected, which statistically he won’t be, his offensive views will drive other countries away from us. When Bush was reelected [in 2004], a newspaper in Britain ran the headline asking how the population of American could be so stupid. The fallout will probably be even worse with Trump,” Collins said, referring to the infamous Daily Mirror headline, “How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?” that ran immediately after Bush’s reelection. “I think Hillary won’t make a bad president, but she’ll probably have the lowest approval rating of a president by the people in a long time. The only way someone could have a lower approval rating would be if Trump was elected, which again, would be bad for other reasons.”

Collins also gave a dismal projection for the future, commenting that the animosity present during is election won’t just fade away after Nov. 8.

“No matter what, the divided nation we seem to see during this election cycle won’t end when the election occurs,” he said.

These trends can be seen across the nation among young voters and politically aware high school students. Coming off a primary campaign in which the majority of young Republicans voted for Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, while Sanders had the largest support among young Democrats, the eventual nominees have been left to fight for their party’s new voters.

Eric Zoberman, the national youth vote deputy director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, explained to International Business Times why young voters have become discouraged by this election.

“Why does a young person want to vote? They want to vote because they want to make a difference. They want to do what is in their best interest,” Zoberman said. “When you make that a negative experience, when you paint a picture that a young person has to choose the lesser of two evils, it takes that enthusiasm out of the process.”

High school and college students at Niles West and elsewhere remain overwhelmingly disenchanted with the state of American politics. With the both of the two major party candidates failing to drum up anything reminiscent of excitement, this election shows an unprecedented number of apathetic young voters. Many people will be waiting eagerly to see the results of this semi-disengagement come Nov. 8.