The 2020 Presidential Election cycle is officially underway. While the incumbent President Donald Trump is strongly favored to secure the Republican Party’s nomination, consensus on a Democratic front-runner remains elusive.
Harry Niles ‘21, Vice President of the Deerfield Young Democrats, spoke about the division within the Democratic Party, saying, “I think currently [the Democratic Party] is pretty divided as we can’t get behind one candidate, although there is a common goal to get rid of Trump.”
In order to better understand Deerfield students’ views on the presidential candidates, the Deerfield Scroll conducted a student body survey that asked questions regarding political alignment, possible candidates that respondents would consider voting for, and which candidate they would ultimately vote for. The survey yielded 144 results, about 22% of the student body, 70 of which came from students eligible to vote in November 2020.
Out of those students who responded to the survey, the results show that Democrats compose the largest political identification amongst them, with about 40% of the 144 survey respondents identifying as Democrats. 31% of respondents identified as Republican and 28% identified as Independent.
However, a Scroll survey last year with 541 participants found 28.73% of the 541 respondents that identified as conervative, 17.91% as independent, 20.52% as liberal, 2.61% as libertarian, and 30.22% as other/unsure.
President Trump received the most “votes” from survey respondents; if they were forced to choose now, 27% of all respondents indicated that they would vote for him. 18% of respondents said they would vote for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, placing him in second place amongst Deerfield students. Senator Bernie Sanders was third with 14%, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was in fourth with 10%, and Vice President Joe Biden was fifth with 8%. These results showed that no presidential candidate is close to gaining a majority amongst Deerfield students.
Another question on the survey asked respondents to indicate all the candidates they would consider voting for. Of all surveyed students, 39% stated that they would consider Mayor Bloomberg, the highest for any presidential candidate. President Trump was a close second place, with 37% of surveyed students indicating they would consider voting for him. Mayor Buttigieg was third with 33%; Senator Sanders was fourth with 26%, and Vice President Biden trailed closely with just under 26%.
Amongst the 59 Democrat respondents, Senator Sanders earned the most votes, with 29% of Democrats indicating they would vote for him if they had to choose now. Mayor Buttigieg was second within the Democratic voter base, earning 17% of votes. Mayor Bloomberg was third with 14%, while Senator Warren and Vice President Biden tied for fourth with 10% each. An overwhelming majority of Democrats, 81%, stated that they would not consider voting for a Republican candidate.
Among the 45 Republican respondents, President Trump received 73% of all votes, which suggests that he remains strong in his Republican base. Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Buttigieg were the only Democratic candidates to receive votes from Republicans, earning 9% and 4% respectively. While President Trump is by far the Republican favorite, 47% of Republican respondents indicated they would consider voting for a Democratic candidate, which suggests the Deerfield Republicans are not as vehemently opposed to a Democratic executive as Democrats are opposed to a Republican president.
This survey found that President Trump and Senator Sanders were the most polarizing candidates. Only one respondent of the 59 who identified as Democrat said that he or she would consider voting for President Trump. No Democrats said they would vote for President Trump if forced to pick just one candidate. Conversely, no Republicans stated that they would vote for Senator Sanders.
Mayor Bloomberg was the most popular among students who identified as independents. 32% of independents stated that their vote would go to Mayor Bloomberg if forced to pick right now. President Trump was the second most popular amongst independents, 16% of whom named him as their most preferred candidate.
The the 70 responses received from Deerfield students who will be eligible to vote on Nov. 3, 2020, 41% identified as Democrats, 37% identified as Republicans and 21% identified as independents. While the percent of respondents who identified as Democrats remained similar amongst eligible voters and the whole student body, the percent of Republicans increased and the percent of independents decreased. President Trump reamined the favourite amongst eligible voters, with 31% indicating that they would vote for him. Mayor Bloomberg was second again with 20% while Mayor Buttigieg took third place with 11%.
If Democrats want to beat President Trump Trump, they will have to decide whether their interests are safer in the hands of progressives such as Sanders and Warren, or moderates such as Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg and Klobuchar.
On one hand, they are more likely to win Republicn and Independent support with a moderate candidate. Teddy McCarthy ‘20, the leader of the Deerfield Young Republicans, warned, “The Democratic Party has to stop their mass exodus to the left if they want any chance at the presidency in the next twenty years.” On the other hand, progressives are more likely to consolidate the Democratic voter base. One respondent wrote, “I full-heartedly support Bernie Sanders for president, as he is the only candidate who has the Green New Deal for his plan on climate.”
In summary, President Trump and Mayor Bloomberg are the frontrunners amongst Deerfield students. The results are ambivalent in terms of predicting a democratic nominee. While Senator Sanders was the most popular candidate amongst Democrats, Mayor Bloomberg received strong support from independents and some support from Republicans.
The Democratic nominee will be officially decided at the Democratic National Convention from July 13 to July 16 this year, although it is likely that a clear frontrunner will emerge before then. Much will likely happen between now and then that could influence how Deerfield students’ views as well as the rest of America’s views. It is important to note that most respondents to this survey filled it out before the Nevada primaries and the student body’s perceptions, particularly towards Bloomberg, may have changed since then. The race remains in its early stages and much debate remains to be had.