Students prepare for presidential primaries

While the most vocal Whitman students feel the Bern when it comes to their president of choice, Whitman students are backing many different candidates this presidential season.

Washington state’s delegates for choosing the Republic and Democratic presidential nominees will be chosen through caucuses and primaries for both parties. The Democratic caucus will be held on March 26th, the Republican caucus will be held on February 20th and the voting period for the primaries will be from May 6th to May 24th. In past years, the splitting of the delegates between the caucuses and the primaries has been inconsistent, so it is hard to know how the delegates will be divided in this election season.

Though Whitman students differ in the candidates they support, they generally wish to see change in the current political system. Many of those who have already put their support behind a candidate wish that others would do independent research and then support whichever candidate they think is best.

Many students who support Bernie Sanders volunteer with Walla Walla for Bernie. This organization attempts to persuade both registered Democrats and the general voters of Walla Walla to vote for Bernie Sanders. The students involved do canvassing events where they go door-to-door to drum up support.

“You just go door-to-door, talk with people, figure out who they’re supporting, ask them if they are registered and if they know when the caucus is and where. We’ve also asked them if they want to volunteer in campaigning or doing stuff for Bernie Sanders,” said senior Mateo Seger, who is involved with Walla Walla for Bernie.

According to Seger, Whitman students who are campaigning for Bernie Sanders want to go out in the Walla Walla community because they think they can affect greater change there.

“While it’s great campaigning for Bernie Sanders at Whitman, it’s also kind of an echo chamber,” Seger said.

Sanders supporters are the only group on campus actively organizing for a candidate. Sophomore Katrina Umbaugh, who is still undecided between the democratic presidential candidates, believes this is because Sanders supporters are more vocal while Hillary supporters exist on campus but are more quiet about their opinions.

“I hardly know any people here that are willing to say that they are voting for Hillary Clinton. And I feel like that’s mostly because the people that are very Pro-Bernie are very outspoken, and other people that are thinking Hillary are more on-the-fence towards the middle…So they’re are trying to absorb everything that is going on. The people who know what they are doing are more willing to speak out about it, and I feel like that tends to be the Sanders supporters here,” Umbaugh said.

Many Whitman students want to see a president who will change the voting public’s views on whatever party or ideology they support. To the leader of Whitman’s Young Republican’s Club, junior Groover Snell–who currently supports Marco Rubio–the ability to change young people’s perception of the Republican party is a desirable quality in a candidate.  

“[Rubio] changes the image of the old, grumpy Republicans to the young, hopeful guy. He seems knowledgeable and well-versed in policy issues. He can list off the aspects of every issue and seems to have an idea of what he’d want to do about it,” Snell said.

Similarly, the Socialist Front’s leader first-year Bryn Louise likes Sanders because they view Sanders as a candidate who can convince more people to support leftist politics.

“I see Bernie as a way to generate further interest in the left, and obviously, Bernie’s policies have been really popular without much coercing. It’s generally believed—at least among people our age—that the things that Bernie is advocating for are common sense,” Louise said.

Umbaugh hopes no matter what candidates Whitties end up backing, they should do so because they have critically thought about the candidates themselves.

“I urge people to look at different sources…I think it is important to do your own research and make your own decision,” Umbaugh said.