Issues vary in importance to voters based on generational values

Angelo Angel

Even with two clear major candidates set to battle it out on the ballot this November, the general public remains fiercely divided over an election filled with strong opinions.  

Both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump are viewed as polarizing figures who have issues gaining favorability among the general public.

Clinton’s reputation is marred by the deleted email scandal, and the backlash Trump has faced for his bold statements make him a mainstay in the headlines.

According to a poll chart conducted by the Huffington Post, as of June 27, Clinton’s unfavorable rating stands at 54.6 percent, while Trump also rests at a rating of 59 percent.

This rating becomes more complex as age groups—specifically Baby Boomers and Millennials—take into consideration the issues most important to them, whether it be education or the economy.

And as the political landscape changes with the entry of new young voters and minorities gaining in population, there becomes a sharp divide between generations.

According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. Millennials account for 75.4 million of the nation’s population, which surpasses the 74.9 million who are Baby Boomers.

Candidates will likely take note of these demographic shifts to better target potential votes.

Kent resident Bob Evermore, 57, said he feels the upcoming general election has left him unsatisfied and wishes there would be real change within the establishment.

“For my main concern in this upcoming election, I want politicians to actually enable change within the establishment,” Evermore said. “It just feels we’re given the same government officials every election season.”

As for the candidate with his vote, Evermore said his choice was Bernie Sanders.

This sentiment is not uncommon as voters, regardless of being a Millennial or a Baby Boomer, feel reluctant to declare a candidate as their choice.

Kent resident Carol Wardle, 58, shares the sentiment that both of the candidates offered by the Democratic and Republican party inspire little emotion within her.

“I wanted Bernie Sanders, so if he runs as a third party candidate, I’d vote for him.” Wardle said, adding that she holds public safety against mass shootings and terrorist attacks as her top priority.  

For Dylan Bennett, an incoming freshman at Kent State, education is the issue he feels holds most importance.

“I feel that everyone needs a college education,” he said, “and as a Millennial, college can be very expensive when compared to what it used to be.”

Zachary Simokovich, an incoming freshman at Kent State, also feels that education holds priority among several issues he cares about.

“Personally, I feel that Baby Boomers don’t realize how expensive college currently is,” Simokovich said, adding that he feels the issues of Millennials are often minimized by older generations who may not hold the same views, such as college affordability.

Simokovich said Sanders was his choice and that Clinton isn’t genuine when it comes to her character.

But, not every young person is solely concerned with affordable education.

“I get that education is important to our generation, but for myself, immigration is what matters,” said Dakota O’Brien, an incoming freshman athletic training major at Kent State.

O’Brien said he feels Trump is his choice for the upcoming election, stating that while he’s not against immigrants coming to America, he would want them to enter through legal procedures.

“It’s not that I’m against people coming to America in order to better their lives, but they should do it legally,” O’Brien said.

Angelo Angel is a reporter for The Kent Stater, contact him at [email protected].