SPECIAL COVERAGE: Pulse of the presidential
Here’s what some college students have to say about the 2016 election and their voting habits
By Bryan Ruminski
Special to the Southeast Express
On Nov. 8, 2016, Republican Donald J. Trump won the presidential election. The results are still debated today.
We conducted a survey of 40 randomly selected students at Pikes Peak Community College about the effect of the 2016 election. For their privacy, we did not ask their names.
What we found were divisive results as to whether voter turnout rates will increase, decrease or stay the same for the 2020 presidential election. Here are our questions and informal findings:
1: Did you vote in the 2016 presidential election?
Our notes: Some participants said they either didn’t care about the election to begin with, or they felt that voting was their right and they had an obligation to help decide the fate of America.
Their quotes: “Being an American means being able to vote, and if that means I can help with the bigger picture then I will always vote when necessary.”
“At the time, I was too young to vote but even now I’m not sure if I am going to vote or not.”
2: Were you inspired by or driven away from voting in the 2016 election? Or was voting something that didn’t interest you?
Our notes: Many of the participant’s answers delved into how they felt discouraged from voting for
the 2016 election, due to Trump not having any previous political experience and how him being a former reality TV star didn’t quite fit their image of the President of the United States of America. There were a few, though, who said voting was either something didn’t interest them or that they were too young at the time to cast their own ballot.
Their quotes: “Trump never had the qualifications of being president.”
“Trump was a breathe of fresh air for me, so I was inspired to cast my vote.”
3: Were you surprised by the results of the 2016 election?
Our notes: Many respondents were surprised by Trump’s victory, due to him having no prior political
experience and being a former reality TV star. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some said that they were not surprised because of how relentless and dedicated his supporters were, even at the very start of his campaign.
Their quotes: “Trump’s ability to win over his audience with his passion and enthusiasm is why I was not surprised [by] him winning the race.”
“I was more surprised by how the Electoral College is what gave him his victory.”
4: Have recent politics inspired you to vote more, or have they steered you away from voting in the future?
Our notes: Trump’s presidency hasn’t wooed everyone. His victory in the race and accusations of foreign interference in the 2016 election are still hotly debated topics. This question was divisive in the end, with answers either reflecting that recent politics have inspired them to vote more or that they have made students completely uninterested in the 2020 presidential election.
Notable quote: “With the way politics have been these past couple years, I am unsure if I am going to vote again.”
5: Will you be voting in the next presidential election? If so, why?
Our notes: Just like survey question four, the answers here were nearly split, with some saying that their votes won’t matter in the end. Others will be voting in the next election because being able to vote and help shape their country’s future excites and encourages them to vote more often — not just for the presidential election but locally as well.
Their quotes: “Unless something is done about the electoral college, voting does not interest me.”
“It is my right, so of course I am going to vote when I can.”
With the election fast approaching, the Express teamed with second-year publishing students at Pikes Peak Community College on a special project examining many facets of voting. The students heard from City Councilor Yolanda Avila, State Rep. Tony Exum and State Sen. Pete Lee, about the importance of voting and participation, and assisted in nonpartisan voter-education and engagement efforts. These student-reported stories look at several voting-related issues — and why some voters may or may not participate in the process.
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