Who will students vote for this year?

Alicia Balog

Being an election year, Kent State students’ stances on issues, choices for candidates and political views vary for multiple reasons.

Bryan Staul, junior political science and history major and president of the College Democrats, said he votes for the people and the programs that benefit him.

“It’s a simple fact of you got to think ‘All right I’m in the middle class. I make X amount of money a year,’” Staul said. “People tend to vote their wallet. I vote for the party that I feel is benefiting my economic class, my country, my community, my family. I’m voting affordable education, high-paying jobs, energy affordability and alternative energy and healthcare availability. So things like these I’m voting for, and I’m not voting for corporate handouts or tax cuts for people who make $1 million a year.”

Daniel Hawes, assistant professor of political science, said young adults, especially students, as a whole generally tend to vote Democrat because of their age.

“The most prominent theory tends to do with aging conservatives,” Hawes said. “Basically the theory says as individuals get older, they tend to get more conservative in part because they have more at stake in the status quo. So they have retirement savings, they have social positions that are more socially conservative because society changes over time, and they hold onto more socially conservative viewpoints.”

Hawes said as people grow older, they earn more money and care more about how taxes affect them, sometimes changing their stances on tax increases.

“Young individuals don’t have – they tend not to have a lot at stake in that respect. They tend to be at lower end of the economic spectrum in terms of their earnings and their stake in the status quo; therefore they are going to be more likely to support what we tend to think of as liberal positions.”

Yet Hawes said if you look at individuals and their voting, the most significant factor in what political party they support is their parents’ parties and influence.

“It’s part of that socialization process right,” Hawes said. “So as you’re growing up, children tend to view and look to their parents for guidance especially if you grow up in a very political household, that shapes the way that you think and see the world.”

For example, Staul said he was raised Democrat by his family but looks at the candidates’ stances on issues to make his decisions.

“My parents are absolutely democrat. My grandparents are democrat,” Staul said. “But I mean no, I like to say I’m a democrat solely on issues and ideology. Like I said I come from a middle-class, blue collar family – not exactly the Republican’s target audience.”

Katherine Sheppard, freshman political science major, said she was raised liberal by her parents — both teachers — and votes Democrat.

“They’re both teachers, so I mean originally my mom was raised Republican, but she switched to being Democratic because of all the teaching and stuff,” Sheppard said. “Since we are middle class, it helps us in the long run.”

Greg Allison, senior political science major and president of the College Republicans, said he votes Republican because of his ideologies and his strong Republican roots to his family.

“I’ve always had traditional values and the idea of government staying out of my life –taught to me from family and surroundings,” Allison said. “Once I came to college, I learned that being a Republican is the best…situation for me. Being able to live in American with low taxes and a smaller government is the best for me as an individual and the best for everyone I think.”

Whether parents influence their party affiliations or not, some students vote independently of their families and identify with neither political party.

Amanda Woolf, senior photojournalism major, said she votes independent because she does not like the two-party system.

Woolf voted for Barack Obama in the last presidential campaign, but she said now trusts Republican Ron Paul but still does not affiliate herself with the Republicans.

“In general, I hold a lot of the same social values that they do, and I agree… we should have more of a hands–off kind of government,” Woolf said. “So I agree in that sense, but I don’t like affiliating with them just because I don’t agree with certain other things that they do.”

Woolf said she does not really like any of the other Republican candidates because she feels they put religion too much into politics, going against the constitution and freedom of religion.

Adriana Gomez-Weston, freshman fashion design major, does not identify with either party and does not trust politicians because they never follow through with their plans and cannot please everyone.

“A lot of them use ploys just to get into office and then most of the time they don’t do what they’ll say they do,” Gomez-Weston said. “I say there is one thing we can’t have either of is a gay president or a Christian president because you never please everybody, so there is always someone who is going to be dissatisfied with whoever is in office no matter what.”

Other students on campus know very little about politics because of circumstance or lack of interest.

Társis Sousa, junior biotechnology major and international exchange student from Brazil, said he is confused about American politics but knows it involve the two parties, Democrat and Republican.

“In Brazil, it’s different,” Sousa said. “You have many parties, so like they choose their candidate, and then you can choose which one you want and go to the TV and to the radio things. And you can hear their propositions, and then you can choose like the candidate for each party. They choose by themselves, and then you have to choose one, the party that you want to be on the government.”

Kegan Ruthsatz, sophomore electronic media production major, said he has never voted because he was never interested and never got too involved with politics.

“I’m sure I’d be able to care about it if I really looked into the issues and stuff,” Ruthsatz said. “But I just haven’t made an effort to get involved or interest myself.”

Contact Alicia Balog at [email protected].