By David Fleet
Goodrich– Support for president-elect Donald Trump appears to incorporate high school-aged students.
On Nov. 3 district high school students participated in a unique mock election prior to the national election that not only sought presidential candidate preference, but also how issues impacted voters choice.
The vote was the Capstone project of 18-year-old high school senior Maxim Ziskie. The Capstone is a final project that any student enrolled in a high school English class must complete to graduate. Zaskie was assisted by high school teacher Rick Sweeney.
Six issue-based questions from a list of 25 in The Wall Street Journal were selected by 98 high school students enrolled in Sweeney’s classes and represented all grades. The students age 14-18 years selected terrorism, education, health care, debt, jobs and gun control as key issues in the recent election.
A total of 420 students of about 700 cast ballots from a list of leading presidential candidates. Write-ins were not included in the final results. Republican Donald Trump tallied 63 percent of the vote followed by Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton with 19 percent; Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson 13 percent; and Green Party candidate Jill Stein with 5 percent.
In comparison, in 2012 Atlas Township voters, where the greatest majority of high school students live, supported Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with 2,655 votes to Democratic candidate Barack Obama with just 1,978.
Regarding issues, terrorism was the most important with 37 percent of voters, followed by debt with 21 percent, jobs 18 percent, education 10 percent, health care 8 percent and gun control.at 5 percent.
Ziskie, who voted in the recent presidential election for the first time, suggests peers and parents impact students choices.
“There’s all sorts of media impacting the students’ decisions,” said Ziskie. “Teachers also provide imput on how they may vote or how they form opinions. Many of the issues are discussed in class.”
There’s a good chance Ziskie is correct in the assessment of his peers’ voting habits.
Dr. Jesse Donahue is a professor in the political science department at Saginaw Valley State University, where she teaches courses on politics and law, the presidency, gender and politics, terrorism, and statistics.
“No doubt parents still heavily determine how youth vote,” said Donahue. “The social media is still a source—however, Facebook is on the way out. Instagram seems to be the primary means of sharing information. At the high school age they rely heavy on the family for shaping ideas. Some students are more drawn to politics than others and formulate ideas from other media sources.”
Changes are often realized later in life, added Donahue.
“Students change in a few ways including college, but not as much as you think. The real change comes when they start a job after college. The company and talking with others at work form new voting habits. Regarding the terrorism issue I’m not suprised that’s a top concern. People are concerned about their safety —that never goes away.”