The voter turnout for the youth has been historically the lowest but in recent times the youth are more vocal and politically active. According to the US Census Bureau the 2016 election showed the age group 18-29 was the only age bracket to have an increase in voter turnout rate compared to the 2012 election.
While attending multiple rallies, town halls, watch parties, and the McIntyre-Shaheen Dinner where almost all the major Democratic candidates spoke, we were able to talk to many young voters. Our target audience was people under 25 because this age group is the most underrepresented in the polls. There were a plethora of young students who supported different candidates but essentially had similar worries about the problems in our country. We got to speak with Sanders, Yang, Buttigieg, Bennet, and Warren supporters who all came out to New Hampshire to hear their favorite candidate speak and support them in the primary. Their concerns ranged from climate change, the Green New deal, healthcare, college debt, gun violence, to wealth inequality.
“It is a really interesting thing to look at the experience and understand how the democratic process really works instead of watching the polls on TV,” said Patrick Fenn, 18. Other voters came from the nearby major cities of New York City and Boston. Some traveled to New Hampshire in order to hear these candidates share their platforms directly. Many of these students and young voters explained why this election is so important and even though they may have different candidates they support, the biggest fear they exclaimed was having Trump become re-elected.
Dartmouth student Matt Gannon explained that this election “is a really important moral moment for our country.” The concerns shared by these younger voters were having legislators and our leader making monumental decisions that will affect our generation the most. “The people in the 60 and up range won’t live to see the effects of their policies” Aaron Seibert, a student from New York City. “And also climate change, we are the generation that will be alive and trying to fix that”
With many young voters unsure of who they are supporting, they collectively understand the importance of this election and the primaries. Gannon added how special the primaries are because “it makes candidates talk to voters directly about issues that are significant to them.” These students who are involved recognize that primary season is a time to listen and question candidates’ policies especially for those who are on the fence on who they are voting for.
Covering the events of New Hampshire, there was a majority of white voters due to the predominately white area of Manchester. The most diverse crowds were Bernie and Yang supporters, having the most diversity in people of color and age. The support of the Yang crowd had a significant number of young voters who some of them were not even the age of eligibility to register but were passionately involved to engage other voters. When speaking with a Bernie fan outside of his concert rally with the Strokes, Martin Villanueva a first-generation student from Connecticut, spoke about being a Bernie supporter and one of the few people of color at the rally right now. Villanueva admires Bernie because that he has Latino people working his campaign that hold high positions because “We are not token voters, we are not just going to come out and vote for you unless you give us a reason that shows you are going to support us.” Villanueva says.