Students weigh in on the 2020 election

Elena Curtis, Volunteer reporter

Although the 2020 Presidential Election is just over one year away, young people are already finding themselves engaged in the ongoing election coverage.

A 2019 Pew Research Center analysis determined that people between the ages of 18-39 will make up 37 percent of eligible voters in the 2020 election. This begs the question: what are these younger voters, specifically college-aged voters, thinking about when it comes to the election and how it is covered?

UNF is not a particularly conservative or liberal institution. Polls conducted by UNF’s Public Opinion Research Laboratory oftentimes finds a pretty even split between conservative and liberal candidates and issues. It does not make endorsements of candidates, has in the past hosted politicians from different sides of the aisle and has clubs that encompasses various points on the political spectrum. 

Alex Magee, a member of the UNF Students for a Democratic Society, a grassroots student-led organization, says that the organization has already began discussing both the Democratic primary and the 2020 Presidential Election in meetings. Magee says that should time permit it, SDS may host a debate watch party at some point.

SDS does not have a specific candidate that they are prepared to endorse. Rather than sticking with one particular candidate, the organization is hoping the candidates will talk about plans that are “progressive in nature, such as affordable healthcare and affordable college.”

Magee, who says she was a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016, does not currently have a favorite in the race. She does, however, have a specific message about how she thinks the candidates competing in the primary can get young people to turn out and vote for them in both the primary and general elections.

“I think all of these candidates should be honest [with] their intentions, focus on the working class and the middle class and help with student debt.”

Mary Davis, a senior at UNF who is not affiliated with any political groups on campus, says she is already paying close attention to the election coverage and plans to vote both in the primary and general election. 

Davis says the issue she cares most about is climate change and she believes that her preferred candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, will do something to combat it if she is elected. 

For Davis, frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden is the least exciting candidate in the field. While she says she personally likes Biden, she calls him a “mess” and says, “I wish he would just quit.” 

Although Davis is paying attention to the race, she says that she has problems with the way election coverage plays out in the press. “They don’t focus on the important issues with the candidates; it’s all about the controversy.”

Like Davis, Suraya Kenaio is also a senior at UNF who is not affiliated with any political groups on campus. Kenaio says she will “absolutely vote,” but hasn’t started to pay close attention to the election or polling data yet. She plans to do so when the election gets closer. 

Kenaio sees climate change as the biggest issue facing the United States and is looking for in-depth coverage of that issue. She believes that, because of the global influence that the United States has, it is important that we lead the charge in facing climate change.

“The worst thing we could do as a nation would be to elect a president who does nothing to try to combat global warming.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders is the candidate that Kenaio is most interested in. She says that “he has always captured” her interest since stepping onto the national stage during the 2016 Democratic primary.

“I especially like him because he cares about the ‘little guys.’ He’s not a puppet for rich corporations,” she said. 

When it comes to how the election is covered, Kenaio says she is concerned about how news outlets might allow bias to show in their coverage. She says that she doesn’t need to be told by any media outlet what to think about the news and hopes that news networks will remain as objective and fair as possible.


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