Don’t Underestimate the Youth Vote

A poll of 97 Pepperdine students revealed that young local voters are feeling the Bern.

According to the poll, about 18 percent of Pepperdine student voters will be voting for Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday. Meanwhile, all other Democrats, including Pete Buttigieg, Mike Bloomberg, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Andrew Yang, will attract a combined 16 percent of Pepperdine voters surveyed. 

Sanders’ popularity is consistent with other political reports, which cite the Democratic Party’s failure to narrow down candidates as a primary reason for Sanders’ success in the pre-Super Tuesday polls. 

According to, “Trump would not have been the nominee in 2016 had the non-Trumpers consolidated. They never did and he got the nomination. We are looking at the same scenario.” shows that Sanders is leading with about 29 percent of the vote going into California’s Super Tuesday on March 3. This is a higher level of support than the Pepperdine student poll.

On the Pepperdine poll, none of the other Democratic candidates pushed their support into the double digits. The closest Democratic second is Elizabeth Warren with about 6 percent. It is not a surprise that Sanders attracts university students because he campaigns on free college tuition and student debt forgiveness, according to

Changing views about Socialism are also contributing to Sanders’ success among college-voters. A poll conducted by College Pulse of more than 10,000 students in May 2019, found that 39 percent have a more favorable or positive view of socialism than capitalism, while 39 percent of students have an unfavorable view of it. Eighteen percent have no opinion or are not sure, according to the College Media Network.

About 31 percent of independents and Democrats polled are unsure if they will be voting on Super Tuesday and/or for whom, leaving about a third of the university voting market up for grabs. 

On the other side of the aisle, Trump support is less strong; seven out of the 17 (41 percent), of Republicans polled will not be voting for or are unsure of their support for Donald Trump—even beyond Super Tuesday. The independents polled, however, favor Trump and Bernie equally, with each candidate bringing in five out of 19 of independent voters. The other nine independent votes are spread amongst the various Democratic candidates and non-voters. 

While Sanders was, in fact, the super star of the poll, it is unclear how many of the students polled will show up on Super Tuesday. Several students, before choosing a candidate from the poll, asked, “What is Super Tuesday?” This brings into question their political literacy and actual intent. Although the young vote has increased in the last two elections, it is unclear if the trend will continue. 

“Most analyses heading into 2020 are underestimating the power of young people to influence the next election and quite possibly transform our government,” According to B.J. Rudell of The Hill. “The ‘Young Person Effect’ isn’t fading. If anything, it’s growing stronger.”

Of the Pepperdine poll respondents, 42 were female, 55 were male. Names were not collected on the polling ballots to maintain anonymity. Seventeen respondents identified as Republicans, 41 as independents, 36 as Democrats and three as “other.”


By Judith Brister


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