Johnson: Students and young people are coming back to Bernie Sanders


Caitlin Yamada/ Iowa State Daily

Columnist Zachary Johnson believes that Bernie Sanders’ biggest rival is Elizabeth Warren because they are closest in viewpoints. However, Sanders has had a last-minute surge in the polls as caucus night nears.

Zachary Johnson

Young people have been some of the more contemplative voters in the choice of the 2020 candidate, but now they are coming back to Bernie Sanders.

When candidates began declaring to bid for the Democratic nomination, the conversation surrounding candidates immediately focused on electability and hasn’t strayed from that much at all since. This is mainly derivative from the utter surprise of having a candidate as toxic and out-of-nowhere as Donald Trump come in and take the White House. Ever since, Democrats have been uncertain about what they want in a candidate.

This dichotomy has been especially pertinent between age groups. There is a large discrepancy in what is desired from a candidate with a relationship that makes you far more likely to vote for Mayor Pete Buttigieg or Vice President Joe Biden the older you are, and the younger you are, the more likely you will elect to support Senators Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Young people have been uncertain, however, with their choice for the candidate. While Sanders has led the category of college students for the most part, he has always had contention from Biden and Warren with 10-12 percent of these voters going for Buttigieg or Andrew Yang. 

This phenomenon is especially surprising given the incredible margin that Sanders won this demographic in 2016 (it is particularly interesting to note that he won this group 84-16 in the Iowa Caucus in 2016.) This doubt for Sanders’ viability as a candidate early on is most likely coming from the fear that came from his campaign’s effort in 2016 to overcome the Democratic establishment to make a bid for that nomination. The common arguments of age, the ‘s’ word (socialism) and general election viability have been the main things that have been expressed as things that would keep people from supporting Sanders.

The clear adversary to Sanders, if we subscribe to the ideological lane theory, is Warren, as she is the clear rival to him in the leftist progressive lane. She, while holding many of the policy positions, strays from using the ‘s’ word, and for many Democrats (and especially young Democrats) the idea of a female nominee is very tempting.

However, in the recent days (and in a critical juncture with the caucus coming up in less than a week) this trend of doubt amongst young people has been bucked, and Sanders is clearly trending up from young people, which has been the source of his sudden surge in the polls and what is giving him a surprising last minute surge as the favorite to win the crucial caucus.