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More than 90% of Hillsdale College stu­dents want Pres­ident Donald Trump to win reelection this week, but only 66% pre­dicted that he would secure the victory, according to a Hillsdale Col­legian poll. 

While less than 8.4% of respon­dents said they would prefer to see Joe Biden win the election, more than a third pre­dicted he will win. 

With 296 stu­dents responding, the poll cap­tured the opinions of about 20.5% of the current student body, including under­graduate and graduate stu­dents.  The poll was included in the Hillsdale College Student Activ­ities Office bi-weekly newsletter, and stu­dents could respond from Oct. 5 to Oct. 26.

Take­aways from 2020 Poll 

Four years ago, only 43.41% of 493 Hillsdale stu­dents polled by the Col­legian said they would cast their ballot for Trump. Only 6% of respon­dents said they would vote for Hillary Clinton. 

Of the student body in 2016, 20.28% of respon­dents said they would vote for Gary Johnson, while 11.16% favored Evan McMullin. Another 7.91% said they would vote for another candidate. 

The 2020 poll asked stu­dents if they were reg­is­tered to vote, and 94.6% respon­dents said “yes.”

Stu­dents also responded to the question: “What method will you use to vote?” According to the poll, 74% of respon­dents voted by absen­tee/mail-in ballots, 18.2% of stu­dents voted in-person, and 7.8% of stu­dents did not vote. 

In 2016, 5.48% of respon­dents did not vote at all, and another 5.68% of respon­dents did not vote for pres­ident, but did vote in other races. 

Hillsdale College stu­dents, who gen­erally vote absentee, have had varying degrees of success voting this year.

Senior Katherine Wilkins, pres­ident of  the Hillsdale College Democrats, said she voted in Ohio’s 2020 election using an absentee ballot. 

“During the pri­maries, I picked up absentee ballots for my entire family,” Wilkins said. “I think it’s very important to vote, espe­cially our gen­er­ation. We’re so awful at it.” 

Junior Vera Mack­yn­toich did not get the chance to vote in South Carolina’s election because she never received her absentee ballot. 

“Frus­tration is def­i­nitely an under­statement because I do value my right to vote, and I do want to exercise my right to vote as an American and as a young person, espe­cially when so many young people lean left,” said Mack­yn­toich, who was planning to cast a ballot for Trump. 

Mack­yn­toich said South Car­olina requires res­i­dents to request an absentee ballot by mailing or faxing an appli­cation. After she sent in her appli­cation by fax in the first week of Sep­tember, Mack­yn­toich tracked her appli­cation and could see that it was received, but its status was “pending” for several weeks. 

When October came around, Mack­yn­toich said she called her county’s voting office and was told there was nothing she could do to expedite the process. 

“Now it’s Nov. 2, and I still haven’t received my ballot,” Mack­yn­toich said. “My family actually con­tem­plated flying me back on a red eye to vote and then flying me back, but with COVID-19 that didn’t happen.”

Even though she did not receive her ballot, Mack­yn­toich said she likes South Carolina’s process for applying to receive an absentee ballot. Mack­yn­toich pre­vi­ously lived in Georgia and said the state unknow­ingly sends many absentee ballots to people who are deceased. 

“I like South Carolina’s process of requiring res­i­dents to give a reason for receiving an absentee ballot,” Mack­yn­toich said. “I had to send in my tran­scripts to prove that I was in school. I think it’s a good safety precaution.” 

Senior Ethan Lehman said he was con­sid­ering voting for the Democrtaic nominee in the spring of 2020 before the nominee had been decided. 

“Once Biden got the nom­i­nation, I didn’t want to vote for him, but I hadn’t elim­i­nated the option,” Lehman said. “Then, all the cor­ruption stuff came out in October, and that sealed the deal.” 

When he filled out his absentee ballot, Lehman said he thought seri­ously about not voting for either of the major party’s pres­i­dential nominees. 

“It was a battle between the ide­alist in me who said, ‘I can’t vote for either of these men’ and the cynic in me who said, ‘I need to pick the better of two evils,’ so I chose Trump,” Lehman said. 

Lehman said he reluc­tantly sup­ported Trump because of the president’s character. 

“Trump is morally rep­re­hen­sible, and that makes it very dif­ficult for me to vote for him, but I feel the need to support him because the alter­native is worse,” Lehman said. “It’s not nec­es­sarily Biden’s char­acter but because of what the Demo­c­ratic Party is becoming.” 

The poll also asked stu­dents if this was their first time voting in a pres­i­dential election. This will be the first time that 81.6% of respon­dents vote in a pres­i­dential election. 

Senior Aidan Wheeler said he sup­ported Trump in 2016, but this was his first time voting in a pres­i­dential election. 

“It was pretty weird,” Wheeler said. “I had to do the whole absentee ballot thing for Illinois.” 

Senior Vir­ginia Aabram also said this was her first time voting in a pres­i­dential election, but she had to request her absentee ballot twice before receiving one. Aabram filed for an absentee ballot from Illinois on Sept. 23, two days before her county planned to send out ballots. She waited about a  month before calling her county’s election division to request a ballot for a second time. 

“I called and they can­celed out my old ballot, if there ever was one,” Aabram said. “When I talked to them on the phone it was a very easy process.” 

Aabram finally received her absentee ballot on Nov. 2, one day before the election. While Aabram said she’s grateful to have received the ballot, she said she wonders what hap­pened to the original ballot. 

“It could have gotten lost in the mail, someone could have stolen it, or it could have never been sent,” she said. “I have no idea.” 

Aabram said one of the main reasons she wanted an absentee ballot was to cast a vote for Trump. 

“I wanted to say that I voted for Trump in this election,” Aabram said. “I’m glad I finally got my ballot so that I can say I voted for him for the rest of my life.” 

The poll asked stu­dents whether they were reg­is­tered to vote as a Democrat, Repub­lican, or neither. About 60% of stu­dents said they were reg­is­tered as a Repub­lican, 38.4% said “neither,” and less than 2% said they were reg­is­tered as a Democrat. 

Finally, the poll asked stu­dents what state’s election they were voting in. The top five states were  Michigan, Ohio, Cal­i­fornia, Texas, and Illinois. 

Lehman said he expects that Biden will win in his home state of Michigan, based on the 2018 midterm election and the state’s overall attitude toward Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

“In con­ser­v­ative circles, there’s backlash against Whitmer, but I think she has the support of Michi­ganders,” Lehman said. 

Student’s Thoughts

Junior Jack Rowe, who is cur­rently in the nation’s capital com­pleting the Wash­ington-Hillsdale Internship Program, said he is impressed by Trump for fol­lowing through with many of the ideas he cam­paigned on in 2016. During the past four years, Rowe said he has been espe­cially pleased by Trump’s dereg­u­latory policies. 

“They’ve done a world of good,” Rowe said. “Busi­nesses have grown and middle-class fam­ilies have been saving money and earning more.”

Rowe said the most important issue for him is the president’s stance on abortion. He opposes Biden for claiming he will codify Roe v. Wade if elected. 

Addi­tionally, Rowe said he has come to appre­ciate Trump’s edu­cation policy. Rowe praised the 1776 Com­mission, which is an edu­cation com­mittee com­mission pro­posed by Trump in response to the New York Times’ 1619 Project, for pro­viding stu­dents with a truthful account of the American founding and experiment. 

In the event that Trump is elected to serve a second term, Rowe said Trump’s greatest legacy could be restoring faith in the American exper­iment among the nation’s youth. 

“He encourages people to be taught that our ideas are admirable and good,” Rowe said. “Though we may imper­fectly pursue them, those founding ideas are still worth striving for.” 

Another reason Rowe said he opposes Biden is because he said he thinks the candidate’s policies would affirm people’s con­tempt for America. 

“Biden’s admin­is­tration would allow for a dou­bling down on this per­vasive, hateful idea that America is 

inher­ently evil in a lot of ways,” Rowe said. “Biden doesn’t believe it, but he would embolden people who carry that thesis.” 

Although he’s cur­rently in Wash­ington, D.C., Rowe spent the summer in his home state of Min­nesota and wit­nessed the effects of a divided nation in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. 

“Whenever I went over to Min­neapolis I would drive by burned gas sta­tions and tire stores,” Rowe said. “We are fun­da­men­tally divided in that we could not agree on very basic things in 2020, and crises have a funny way of exposing those weaknesses.” 

Mack­yn­toich said she realizes that the election is very con­tentious but said it has com­pli­cated parts of life that don’t need to be politi­cized. She’s had friends unfollow her on social media for sup­porting Trump, and said she believes this election has made everybody’s opinions more extreme. 

“I can dis­agree with people and still see the merit in being their friend and see the value in those rela­tion­ships,” Mack­yn­toich said. “But it’s ‘cool’ right now to cancel people who aren’t in line with main­stream nar­rative, and people are jumping on the cancel bandwagon.” 

Wilkins said she dis­liked Trump more than she dis­liked Clinton in the 2016 election and is sup­porting Biden in 2020. 

“The 2016 election was what made me realize I was pretty liberal,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins added that she doesn’t mind having a mod­erate like Biden in the pres­i­dential office and thinks that a Biden victory could give Democrats a solid political strategy. 

“You put your extremes in con­gress where they can duke it out, and you put your mod­erate in the pres­i­dency so they can work with both sides,” Wilkins said. 

For Wilkins, the most appealing aspects of Biden’s platform includes his policies on immi­gration, human rights reform, LGBTQ+ issues, and climate change. 

She’s most opposed to Trump’s policies on immi­gration, climate change, and COVID-19. 

“Whatever eco­nomic gains he made with the economy Obama left him, those have all been destroyed with his COVID response,” Wilkins said. “He pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accords and denies climate change. Those are just a few of the many things that he has done that have made me very firmly believe I will be voting against him this election.” 

If Biden were to be elected, Wilkins said she hopes to see the nation move away from anger and vio­lence. One of the reasons she opposes Trump is because Wilkins said he nor­malizes dis­re­spect toward other people in his language. 

“I would hope that a Joe Biden pres­i­dency would bring back some civility to American pol­itics,” Wilkins said. “I would hope that it could help alle­viate some of the gridlock in congress.” 

In the event that Trump wins reelection, Wilkins said she is most con­cerned about the division between Amer­icans growing deeper and the changes in America’s rela­tionship with foreign powers. 

For senior Callahan Stoub, foreign policy is one of the most important issues to con­sider in a pres­i­dential election. She was impressed when Trump’s admin­is­tration released a national defense strategy in 2018 in which he will be “strate­gi­cally pre­dictable, but oper­a­tionally unpredictable.” 

“One of Trump’s strengths has been that nobody knows what he is going to do,” Stoub said. “Who would have thought he would kill an Iranian general? That was a big deal and was important for the U.S. main­taining a strong role in the Middle East.” 

Stoub said she was in Israel when Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani died and added that her tour guides did worry about retal­i­ation because of the strong rela­tionship Israel had developed with the U.S. 

“Rec­og­nizing Jerusalem and having a rela­tionship with Israel that is friendlier than Obama has made Israel a lot stronger as a country,” Stoub said. 

Stoub said one of Biden’s cam­paign prin­ciples has been about bringing sta­bility and level-head­edness to America’s foreign policy. 

“I don’t think being stagnant or sneaking that sense of sta­bility into foreign policy is the right direction for the U.S. to be in a position of strength inter­na­tionally,” she said. 

Senior Aidan Wheeler said one of his biggest con­cerns with Biden is the candidate’s mental health. 

“I’m ter­rified of having this hor­ribly incom­petent pres­ident during such a momentous time in our nation’s history,” Wheeler said. 

Regardless of which can­didate wins the 2020 pres­i­dential election, Wheeler said he’s antic­i­pating unrest across America for several weeks. 

“I don’t think that we’re going to know on Nov. 3 who’s the pres­ident,” Wheeler said. “And I don’t think people are pre­pared for that sce­nario at all, because you’re going to have rioting on Nov. 3, and it could go on for weeks.” 

Both Wheeler and Stoub said they could see this election ending sim­i­larly to the 2000 contest   between George W. Bush and Al Gore. 

“You could foresee a Supreme Court decision coming in, and if Barrett is the one who casts the swing vote, then all hell is going to break loose,” Wheeler said.