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After First Caucus, Students React

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas upset businessman Donald Trump, 28 to 24 percent, in the Iowa Republican caucuses last Monday. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida finished in a strong third with 23 percent, while no other candidate managed to get above 10 percent, according to data from The New York Times.

In the Democratic caucuses, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont received 49.6 percent, nearly toppling the frontrunner, former Secy. of State Hillary Clinton, who finished with 49.9 percent, according to The New York Times.

Republican Debate

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

As the presidential race begins in earnest, the debate is intensifying here at Manhattan College.

According to Margaret Groarke, Ph.D., an associate professor of government, there is no clear ideological tilt on campus. In her estimation, Jaspers are evenly divided between liberal, conservative and unsure.

“I don’t know what the political breakdown on campus is. Conservative students always tell me that they’re one of the few conservatives on a largely liberal campus and liberal students tell me that they’re one of the few liberals on a largely conservative campus,” Groarke said.

Hence, there’s a multiplicity of political views on campus.

Freshman finance major Pete Murphy, who can be seen donning a red hat reading “Make America Great Again,” supports Trump’s candidacy.

“I’m a supporter of Donald Trump because I think he is going to make America great again,” Murphy said.

Murphy said he supports Trump because of his stances on hot-button issues, including immigration and economics.

“I feel like the [immigrants] that come illegally… they shouldn’t be here” Murphy said. “If they’re going to come, they should come legally.”

On economics, Murphy favors Republican policies, arguing that Democrats have failed to deliver.

“I feel like it’s important to have Donald Trump, who’s a Republican, come in because we’ve had these Democrats […] and they’re not doing too much.”

One Donald Trump supporter, a junior, spoke to The Quadrangle only under the condition of anonymity.

“I have a lot of friends who would probably not want to be my friend after hearing my opinion,” the anonymous junior said.

This student allies with Trump because he projects an image of toughness, which is perceived as lacking in the two Democratic contenders.

“I love their policies and stuff, but I just feel like they’re not tough enough at all,” the junior said. However, Trump doesn’t quite check all the boxes for this supporter.

“I don’t like his immigrant policies and a lot of other things,” the junior said.

Trump’s support on campus is far from unanimous. In a straw poll conducted by the Government and Politics Club last November, Bernie Sanders finished first, taking 39 percent of the vote. Clinton and Trump (who led all his Republican opponents) were the only others to break into double digits in the poll, taking 18 and 12 percent, respectively.

According to Groarke, Trump and Sanders both appeal to similar frustrations, especially wage stagnation and job loss.

“In some ways if we look at Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, you’ve got two people who are tapping into that in different ways,” Groarke said.

Freshman radiation therapy major Tyleah Brumsey supports Sanders.

“I like how [Sanders is] for the black community more. That’s why I’m hoping he’ll become president, to help improve the situation in our communities,” Brumsey said. “I don’t really think Hillary Clinton cares too much. She’s more about the votes of the blacks, rather than actually helping,” Brumsey stated.

Clinton has struggled among younger voters, taking just 14 percent of caucus-goers under age 29 in Iowa, according to New York Times entrance poll data. MC Students are having trouble trusting Clinton, who last year became embroiled in a scandal over her use of a private email server.

Sophomore communication major Jamie Paton, an undecided Democratic-leaner, said “I don’t tend to be a big Hillary Clinton fan, just because her whole situation with the emails really unnerved me.”

Some are even calling for Clinton to be criminally charged.

“Those emails, they’re top-secret information. She was sketchy about it,” Murphy said. “I think she should be charged.”

Bernie Sanders’ main obstacle appears to be his electability. In the entrance poll, Iowa Democrats concerned most with winning in November backed Clinton 4-to-1.

“I like Bernie Sanders. I like his ideas. But I don’t know if he can win,” Paton said.

After his strong showing in Iowa, Marco Rubio is emerging as a contender for many students – including Murphy and Paton, who are considering him as a possible second choice.

“I feel like [Rubio isn’t] very polarizing and I feel like a lot of people like him,” Paton said.

Groarke sees momentum building for Rubio, saying “He’s attracting more attention from what people sometimes call the Republican establishment: the party leaders who want a good Republican to win.”

For many, including the anonymous junior, the general sentiment thus far can be summed up in four simple words: “No candidate is perfect.”

New Hampshire, the second state to hold its nominating contest, conducts primaries today. All polls will be closed in the state by 8 p.m. As of Friday, Trump and Sanders led their respective races in the state by double digits in most polls.

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