As Election Day nears, student political interest varies

President Barack Obama stumps for Hillary Clinton at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Sept. 13. Political figures across all parties have stopped in the city on the campaign trail. MARGO REED FILE PHOTO

Students on Main Campus have had access to political figures over the last few weeks as Pennsylvania remains a battleground in the presidential election.

Visitors like Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Republican candidate Donald Trump, U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate Bill Weld have all made their way to Philadelphia — receiving mixed reactions from students.

“I was here in 2008 and that was pretty extraordinary,” Michael Hagen, a political science professor, said. “There was just a lot of enthusiasm for the Obama campaign, not just for the candidate but also for the message … and I don’t have the feeling that that’s what’s going on here now.”

With the presidential election less than a month away, politicians and volunteers from both major political parties are ramping up their appearances around college campuses, Temple included. While these activities have caught the attention of Temple students, it hasn’t necessarily energized them.

Georgia Mae Lively, a sophomore environmental studies major and an intern for Clinton’s campaign, said she knows people who are voting, even if they’re not excited about the candidate.

“I think people are a little disillusioned with [the system],” Lively said. “I do have friends who have volunteered, and know people who are really interested in Hillary who are really excited. But for the most part, the people my age who I’ve talked to are voting for her, but don’t feel great about it.”

Lively attended Clinton’s rally in Mitten Hall on Sept. 19.

“I thought it was a really good speech,” she said. “I thought that she did a good job of not talking down and not pandering. I thought she laid out her plan pretty effectively and talked about things that are really important to a lot of people that I know.”

Adam Krizner, a sophomore criminal justice major and vice chairman of the Temple College Republicans, attended Trump’s event in Chester Township, Pennsylvania on Sept. 22.  Trump also held a private event for local African American leaders at a church in North Philadelphia.

“After that rally, I’m actually more supportive of Trump, because he kind of came off as more professional,” he said. “He was much more polished. He wasn’t just saying things off the cuff, he was actually prepared.”

Lively feels that although the rallies excited a small number of students, she doesn’t know if the political events have had much of an effect on the student body as a whole. However, she thinks the “increased exposure” from the first presidential debate has.

Krizner said when the debate aired, he walked down a hallway in 1300 Residence Hall and heard it “on in every room.”

“I think a lot of kids on campus, from what I can tell, are politically active,” Krizner said. “A lot of them have a good sense of what’s going on, especially in this election. I think this is a very unique and crazy election, there’s a lot at stake. … A lot of kids, I think, realize that.”

Krizner said Sanders, a former Democratic presidential candidate, excited a lot of students and the “excitement has carried over into the general election.” But those newly energized voters will likely end up voting for the candidate who is the “lesser of two evils.”

Hagen said it’s important to get Temple students involved on and before Election Day.

“The enthusiasm of young people is what carries the campaign to other places and other people,” Hagen added.

Campus has continued to be a hotspot for political organizations despite mixed feelings about the election. Temple’s Democrat and Republican groups provide an outlet for student political involvement, and there’s been no absence of volunteers out registering voters this semester.

“This election looks to be close, so every vote is important,” Hagen said. “And that’s especially true in Pennsylvania, which is one of the battleground states in which the outcome appears to be more in doubt than in most.”

Alexis Anderson can be reached at alexis.s.anderson@temple.edu.

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