First time caucus-goers: video teaser

West students joined the rest of the voting age population on Feb. 1, flocking to the first contest of the country to determine the presidential candidates for the major parties. These first time caucus-goers shared some of their thoughts with the West Side Story.

Cameron Cook and Nina Elkadi

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Cameron Cook, Feature Editor

West students joined the rest of the voting age population on Feb. 1, flocking to the first contest of the country to determine the presidential candidates for the major parties.

The 2016 caucuses attracted a wide variety of people, but the turnout of young voters was very high. The Republicans had a record turnout with 180,000 people across the state, and there was also a very large turnout for the Democratic Party.

“This year it looks like there are a lot of [young people], and they should come,” said Iowa City precinct leader Doug Hornick. “I think part of it’s the enthusiasm over Bernie. A similar thing happened in 2008 with Obama.”

Sanders’s promises along the campaign trail have garnered him lots of support among younger voters.

“I think Bernie is just very fair, he’ll tax wealthy people and distribute it down to people who need it,” said Claudia Tait ’16. “I like his policies with distributing the wealth and universal healthcare. Single payer health care…is fair, so everyone can have coverage.”

Social issues and trustworthiness are on the forefront of the minds of Sanders’s supporters.

“I think he has the most socially aware and honest campaign,” said Megan Kann ’16.

Still, concerns have been raised over Sanders’s ability to actually bring about change.

“I line up more ideologically with [Bernie Sanders’s] views. The only reason I’m undecided now is because [of] how far left he is [and] how much he would get done in his role as president,” said Anoushka Divekar ’16. “If Hillary’s side can convince me today that she can actually get things done, then I’ll go over there”

Effective use of executive power is a favorite topic among Clinton’s supporters, as they believe that she has the experience necessary to continue the reforms started under Obama.

“Honestly, I think policies don’t matter if you can’t do anything about them,” said Jaya Blanchard ’17, a volunteer for Clinton’s campaign. “I think Hillary can get stuff done, and that’s the most important thing.”

On the Republican side, connecting to the younger generation is a priority for teenage voters, especially considering the large number of older candidates. Annie Mons ’17 caucused for Marco Rubio.

“I feel like he’s more concerned about our generation than a 60 year old,” Mons said. “I feel like he understands Millennials.”

A number of students ineligible to caucus still came to observe the proceedings, some because they found the process interesting.

“I’m the first [in my family] to study here,” said Jaehee Eom ’17. “I’m very curious about the American society.”

Others had more specific goals.

“I came to volunteer to help people park, but I wanted to… help keep Iowa first in the nation,” said JJ Colgan ’17.

Overall, the caucuses proved to be a good time and a way to be politically active.

“It’s an ordeal. It’s fun, It’s exciting; I’m really excited. It’s my first caucus, [and] lines are long but it’s worth it, you know,” Tait said. “I get to change something.”