PARTY POLITICS: A five-part series about the Michigan primary elections

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Primary Politics: Millennials can influence the presidential primaries, all they have to do is vote

By Jordyn Hermani

Staff Editor

In January 2017, a new president will take the oath of office on the steps of the United States Capitol building. On March 8, Michigan residents will vote for a candidate to represent their party in the race to be the next president of the United States.

The Michigan presidential primary is a direct, statewide process of selecting candidates and delegates. Unlike the 10 states that caucus, which involve registered members of a political party gathering together to vote for their preferred party candidate, state residents cast a ballot in Michigan’s closed primary.

Under the Michigan Election Law, there is no political party registration requirement. Any Michigan registered voter can participate in the primary. By law, however, voters must indicate in writing which party they wish to vote for. This is only required in the Michigan primary elections and the resident’s choice does not affect voting in the presidential election.

Republicans and Democrats use primaries and caucuses to select one candidate to represent their party come election season.

There are two different types of primaries: open and closed. In an open primary, all registered voters can vote for any candidate, regardless of their political affiliation. However, in a closed primary, voters only select candidates who belong to the same party as them.

Political science faculty member Jayne Strachan spent much of her career studying voting and civic engagement among university students.

While millennials might not think voting in the primaries is important, Strachan said those who take the time to vote are the people whose causes and issues are considered first by those running for president.

“The people who show up (to vote) in the primaries are the people that drag the parties,” Strachan said. “They become the core voters (their) party cannot ignore.”

How Michigan votes

In the last several presidential races, Michigan has voted for Democratic candidates when casting ballots in the November election. Since 1976, Michigan has voted for a Republican presidential candidate only four times.

TJ Bucholz, president and CEO of Vanguard Public Affairs, said he hesitates to classify the state as Democrat ‘blue’ or Republican ‘red’ because blended beliefs make Michigan “really more of a purple.”

“We have a real checkered (voting) history,” he said. “How Michigan votes is dependent on (political) climate and interest in primaries. There are a lot of independents (in the state) who want their say on certain candidates.”

Because the state has close ties with blue collar and union jobs — like the automotive industry — voters tend to favor candidates who value those ideals, regardless of party, Strachan said.

When President Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 and again in 2012, he did so with the help of millennial voters. According to the Pew Research Center, in Obama’s 2008 campaign, 66 percent of voters under age 30 voted for Obama. This made the disparity between young voters and other age groups larger than in any presidential election since exit polling began in 1972.

Through voting drives and appealing to causes millennials were passionate about, Obama was able to go from an unlikely candidate to President of the United States.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the number of Americans born between 1982 and 2000 — the generation known as millennials — stands at roughly 83.1 million. They represent more than a quarter of the country’s population. Michigan, however, is one of the few states where millennials do not outnumber baby boomers.

While the youth vote is important to consider, and can be a powerful tool in winning elections, it’s difficult to depend on, Bucholz said.

“Millennials are a wild card at this point,” Bucholz said. “The vast majority of millennials are unplugged from TV, radio and newspapers. They learn everything from the Internet, especially Twitter, and they don’t do their homework. That is the reason why campaign strategies are still centered around (appealing to baby) boomers and people that are traditionally well-versed in (major political) issues.”

To appeal to the millennial generation, a few things must be considered by candidates.

Millennials are the second most ethnically and racially diverse group in the U.S, according to the Pew Research Center. Forty-four percent of the millennial population is a member of a minority race. The only generation more diverse is Generation Z, or Americans born from the year 2000 onward.

Issues concerning college debt and redistribution of wealth “resonate strongly” with millennial voters, Bucholz said, whereas baby boomers are more concerned about being conservative financially.

Executive Vice President of Marketing Resource Group, Dave Doyle, said candidates try to target the votes they know they’re guaranteed to get.

“First, (candidates) look at who has voted in the past. If somebody has a history of voting in a Democratic or Republican primary, those are your top targets,” Doyle said. “Then they try to expand their base. If (candidates) feel they have appeal to younger voters, you’ll see them visiting college campus and advertising to younger voters.”

Save the date

This primary election, Michigan is in a tough place.

The state falls late in terms of primary dates. Coming just after Super Tuesday on March 1, when 13 states will hold their primaries and caucuses on the same night, Michigan doesn’t hold as much political weight as it has in previous years, when the primaries were held in January or February.

The dates are determined by the national party, Doyle said, not the state.

“There was a real effort at the national party-level that Iowa and New Hampshire went first and anyone who went before March 15 was a proportionate state,” he said.

A proportionate state does not operate on a winner-take-all system. In a non-proportionate state, a candidate who wins 51 percent or more would be entitled to the vote of every delegate in the state, instead of the proportionate amount they won.

If Michigan were to schedule their primary earlier, the state would be penalized and end up “hold(ing) less political sway,” Doyle said.

“If Michigan was going to go in January, we were going to lose around three-quarter of our delegates to the National Convention,” he said. “If (Michigan) was entitled to 59 delegates and only got 20 of those, we would have less of a say as to who’s nominated for president.”

Because Democrats have won Michigan for the past two decades, Doyle said the state is usually thought of as a “somewhat automatic” victory for the Democrats at the national level.

That doesn’t mean residents shouldn’t vote.

“Some of the earlier states are really important in the primary process for being perceived as a serious candidate for the presidency,” she said. “We don’t come as early in the process so we have less (political) weight. Michigan is a bigger state, so we matter (in general election voting). Candidates think about how they can take our Electoral College votes, but we’re not the same as California or Texas who have a huge number of electoral (votes).”

Michigan has 16 Electoral College votes.

A look ahead

For the first time in history, the millennial generation outnumbers the baby boomers by several thousand. Still, baby boomers “dominate the conversation of politics” because they’re the core of regular votes politicians can count on, Strachan said.

“My generation, Gen X, (is) not as politically active as the boomers were — and even if we had been, our generation is so small by comparison that we wouldn’t have made a difference,” Strachan said. “We just didn’t have the number of votes on our side for politicians to seriously consider us in an election. The boomers have always gotten lots of attention. But (the millennial) generation is the first generation, with the population size, to be a counterweight to get politicians to talk about something else.”

She called millennials a “potential force to be reckoned with.”

“The more politicians have to plan what they say, the more candidates have to realize what they need to talk about to appeal to (young) voters and build that into their identity and platforms. Because they can’t win a nomination or a general election without you, the more attention the issues your generation thinks of as important is going to get,” Strachan said.

President of Central Michigan University College Republicans, Mount Morris sophomore Mackenzie Flynn, said millennials are “unplugged” from the political scene, but hopes this will change as students grow older.

She, along with other members of her RSO, has gone tabling to help register students to vote.

“It’s really important to not just vote in primaries, but to vote all the time because your voice really does matter,” Flynn said. “It’s important to look at each individual candidate, consider their promises and what they’re going to be able to do (for the country.)”

Students becoming more concerned about voting and political issues is just a natural progression of time and gaining social responsibilities, Doyle said.

“If you move down the age range you’re less likely to vote, so a 60-year-old is more likely to vote than a 40-year-old and so on,” he said. “If I’m 20 today, as every two years go(es) by, the odds of me voting go up. That’s just because you have more time, you have a job, you’re invested in the community, you may have a relationship and have kids — voting, and the influence it has, just becomes more important.”

This phenomenon changes, Doyle said, when a candidate who gets “younger voters excited” enters the race. If a candidate can get younger voters excited, he said, especially if they talk about issues younger voters are concerned about, then voter turn out will go up.

Grand Rapids junior Tommy Berry, vice president of CMU College Democrats, said voting is one of the most important things a student can do.

“Students have a chance to decide which candidates will be on the docket for their major party. We have a variety of options,” he said. “Your vote is your voice.”

Candidates will not prioritize the issues millennials rally around unless they show up in the primaries, Strachan said.

“If you want to shape what your party stands for, if you want to have influence beyond your numbers, show up in the primaries,” she said. “There’s a huge amount of influence and play over what the party stands for, what issues they can’t ignore and what topics (those running for president) have to address because their base is going to show up in the primaries. They can’t win the primaries without satisfying those people.”


Republican candidates promote social change, strong military

By Mason Kastraba

Staff Reporter

With the upcoming presidential election, both Republican and Democrats are narrowing down their choices for who will represent their party for the November election.

The Republican side has been stirred up by political outsider Donald Trump, who has been strong in polls since the beginning of the campaign.

For the Republican Party there are five possible nominees, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and John Kasich.

“The millenials, this group of kids, will be the first in history to have a vote that can outweigh the baby boomers,” said Jayne Strachan, political science faculty member. “Young people feel alienated when it comes to politics and when they see what’s going on in their country, it makes them demand changes to be made.”

Though millennials outnumber baby boomers, many young voters feel as though their vote doesn’t matter.

“Many students are frustrated by the student debt and many other social issues that serve as a pivotal part of their future,” said James Hill, professor of political science and public administration. “In the eight years we have had with Obama we haven’t seen much change in the pivotal issues that students which could cause voters to want something different and that change is needed.”

Donald Trump

Trump announced that he was running for president in June 2015. He is claiming that his success as a New York businessman will allow him to “make America great again.”

Trump has a large following and is leading polls for the Republican nomination. After Super Tuesday he established himself as the clear front runner, winning seven of the 11 available states.

His  total pledged delegate count stands at 315 out of the 1237 needed to secure the nomination.

Trump plans to fix the economy with drastic budget cuts and strict foreign policy on immigration and imports.

Among some of Trumps other plans is to cut Department of Education and Common Core funding. Trump’s proposed foreign policy is to have a registered database for Muslim refugees coming into the country from Syria. Arguably Trump’s most famous policy is on immigration from Mexico. He proposes to construct a wall, financed by the Mexican government, to keep illegal immigrants out.

Ted Cruz

Cruz is a United States Senator from Texas who began his campaign for presidency March 2015.

After Super Tuesday, his  total pledged delegate count stands at 205 out of the 1237 needed to secure the nomination.

Cruz graduated from Princeton University in 1992 and Harvard Law School in 1995. He served as the domestic policy adviser to George W. Bush on the 2000 presidential campaign and is in 2nd place for the most recent election polls with 17 points, reports CNN.

Cruz is strongly pro-life and wants to prosecute Planned Parenthood for abortions which he considers "violent crimes." Cruz also strongly opposes gay marriage. He believes marriage is, “one-man-one-woman,” and a building block of society.

Marco Rubio

Rubio was born the son of Cuban immigrants and is a Junior Senator from Florida. He announced he was running for president on April 13, 2015. Rubio is in 3rd place in current polls with and is close to knocking Ted Cruz out of 2nd place.

After Super Tuesday, his  total pledged delegate count stands at 106 out 1237 needed to secure the nomination.

Rubio opposes all instances of abortion and said he plans to defund Planned Parenthood.

“The barbarians of our age have murdered millions of the unborn,” he said at a Republican debate on Aug. 7.

Rubio believes the educational system is out of date and that reforms need to be made in all levels of education. He wants to create a strong foreign language curriculum in elementary schools throughout the nation.

Rubio believes addressing global warming would destroy our economy. As Rubio said as a response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on February 12, 2013, “our government can’t control the weather.” He wants to use proven methods of energy and fuel in order to keep energy prices down.

John Kasich

John Kasich is a former governor of the state of Ohio. He announced his candidacy for president during a rally at his Alma Matter, Ohio State University on July 21, 2015.

After Super Tuesday, Kasich's  total pledged delegate count stands at 27 out of the 1237 needed to secure the nomination.

Kasich claims he will win Ohio over Trump and said during a rally in Nashville on Feb. 27.

“If I don’t win my home state, I’ll get out. But you know what? I’m going to win Ohio,” he said.

Like Trump, Kasich is pro-life and has supported initiatives to defund Planned Parenthood. Kasich turned Ohio’s $8 billion deficit into a $2 billion surplus and said he can do the same for the entire country.

Kasich plans to create a $120 million dollar college debt relief fund to help out graduating students with their college debt.

Kasich believes climate change is a threat to the environment, but does not know to what extent and said more research on the subject is required.

Ben Carson

Carson is a retired neurosurgeon who declared his bid during a rally in his hometown of Detroit on May 4.

Carson graduated from Yale University and the University of Michigan Medical School.

After Super Tuesday, Carson's  total pledged delegate count stands at 7 out of the 1237 needed to secure the nomination.

Carson believes Roe v. Wade (1973) should be overturned and abortion should be outlawed in the exception of rape or incest. Carson is also strongly against the legalization of any drugs. He seeks to intensify the war on drugs at the federal level and to ban recreational marijuana use due to his view of the drug as a “gateway drug.”

Carson is a firm supporter of homeschooling because he believes it supports better values. He also came out in support of school of choice because he believes it will increase the competitive nature of education.

Students weigh in

An outlet for Republican students is College Republicans, a registered student organization which looks to address social issues and help get Republican candidates elected and spread their conservative message on campus.

“It’s a great organization to come into and it offers a great group to come to where everyone shares similar beliefs and interests as you,” said Mount Morris sophomore Mackenzie Flynn.

Flynn serves as the president of College Republicans.

“I was always interested in politics throughout high school and was always the person who knew what was happening with elections and candidates which is why I came to CMU for a degree in political science,” she said.

With the majority of college students being eligible, many will vote for the first time in this coming election.

“I side with the Republican Party because they promote a hard work ethic to become successful I also believe the policies the Republican Party stands for are attainable, unlike the idea of free college for all,” said Virginia Beach freshman Tiffany Cline. “I’ll be voting in the this election because I am sick of the way things are currently being run and I want to have a say in who our next president will be.”


Democrats make higher education a campaign priority

By Ruben Juarez

Staff Reporter

In the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, the contest is between a former first lady and a self-identified democratic socialist.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are urging voters across the nation to choose them as the Democratic nominee. These two candidates vary in what they offer and what their vision is for the U.S.

In terms of delegates and superdelegates, Clinton has racked up 544, while Sanders has gained 85, the Washington Post reported. A total of 2,383 delegates grant the Democratic nomination.

Hillary Clinton

Following Bill Clinton’s two-term presidency, New York elected Hillary Clinton twice to the U.S. Senate, from 2001 to 2009. Later, as Secretary of State, Clinton oversaw foreign affairs in President Barack Obama’s first term.

Clinton is now presenting herself as the natural successor to President Obama.

“She has an incredibly deep resume; even compared to her husband,” said political science faculty member Jayne Strachan. “Bill Clinton, when he ran for president, was only governor of Arkansas.”

President of the College Democrats Tim Minotas said her experience is an asset, though Clinton does have some disadvantages that voters take into account.

Some voters look unfavorably on Clinton taking financial support from interest groups, such as banks, Minotas said. Clinton’s primary Super PAC, Priorities USA Action, has raised more than $50 million, The New York Times reported.

More broadly, Clinton faces challenges this election cycle, in part because of an anti-establishment sentiment in politics, Strachan said.

“It’s a year that people are pissed off,” Strachan said. “Some people are mad at the establishment, so listing your experience doesn’t always resonate with people who are upset about the way things have been in the past.”

Bernie Sanders

A Brooklyn native, Sanders first served public office as mayor of Burlington, Vermont as an independent from 1981 to 1989. Next, Sanders was elected by the state of Vermont to the House of Representatives, serving from 1991 to 2007. He served on the U.S. Senate starting in 2007 and was reelected in 2012.

Declaring his candidacy in May of last year, Sanders seeks to fix what he considers a broken financial system, expressing dissatisfaction about income inequality and money in politics. Sanders has opted not to associate himself with any super PAC.

Sanders appeals to voters because he speaks to the issues of average Americans and his voting record reflect his ideologies, Minotas said.

“You don’t see many politicians that have run their whole political career on the same stance,” he said. “Bernie has been consistent on his issues.”

Young voters have favored Sanders thus far CNN reported. In the first three primaries and caucuses, more than 80 percent of voters under the age of 30 voted for Sanders according to entry or exit polls. South Carolina exit polls show that Sanders won the same age demographic by eight points.

But Strachan notes skepticism has emerged about how feasible Sanders’ plans are.

“Sanders doesn’t have a real answer,” Strachan said. “His solution is that people will respond to his message, intensity and need to flip things around. That that will increase voter turnout from people who haven’t been voting.”


Sanders and Clinton have similar views on major political issues. Both have vowed to protect minority rights and to confront money in politics and climate change. Both approve of a path toward citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Minotas said the Democratic candidates disagree on how far to the political left they envision their agendas.

“They differ on how to implement their policies,” Minotas said. “Sanders wants universal health care. Clinton doesn’t want to go that far, but to strengthen Obamacare.”

Sanders relates many issues back to his main theme of income inequality, while Clinton attempts to convey her competence by referencing her previous government roles, Strachan said.

Higher Education

Clinton’s New College Compact proposal aims to help students leave college debt-free. As detailed on her campaign website, the program would establish a system of incentivizing policies between families, government and learning institutions to keep costs down.

Sanders said he will make tuition at public colleges and universities free. He proposes to finance students’ tuition by taxing investment and financial institutions.

Both candidates wish to help refinance loans used for education and lower student loan interest rates.

The road ahead

Clinton won the Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina caucuses. Sanders was triumphant in the New Hampshire primary.

A slew of primaries and caucuses are set for March, including Michigan’s primary on March 8. Michigan will also host a Democratic debate on March 6 in Flint.

When it comes to facing Republicans in the national arena, Minotas feels confident in how both Democrats will fair.

“They’ll win,” Minotas said. “They’re going to win because they are speaking about the issues. The Republicans are running campaigns on hatred and lies, and I think the American people see that.”


Student voices support for Trump, talks politics

By Rachael Parrott

Staff Reporter

While a many young voters are "Feeling The Bern" or saying "I'm With Her," Christopher Kozlowski, a sociology major from Holly said he’s ready to "Make America Great Again" by supporting Donald Trump in the coming election.

Kozlowski sat down to talk with Central Michigan Life about what it’s like to be a Donald Trump supporter on a college campus, a place with a high concentration of young voters, which is a key demographic for candidates of the Democratic Party.

He said he has talked with other Trump supporters on campus. Kozlowski said connecting with people in a group setting to debate ideas is important during any period of controversial political activity, especially during an election.

Why do you support Donald Trump?

KOZLOWSKI: I like that Trump keeps money out of politics. He's not being bribed by lobbyists. He doesn't take any money from lobbyists because he is a businessman, he already has millions if not billions of dollars, so he can support his campaign himself. 

I identify with a lot of (what he's said) because he's pretty conservative, I'm pretty conservative and I just like that he has this "I don't take any crap' type of personality."

What specific issues does Trump support that you agree with?

I'm completely fine with him putting that wall up between the U.S. and Mexico, in fact it sounds good to me. He's going to get rid of all of Obama's executive orders, especially those regarding the Second Amendment. I feel like our current president has been majorly stepping on our rights and overstepping his boundaries as president.

Trump is kind of an unorthodox political figure. Has that ever deterred you from expressing your opinions?

No I guess not, I don’t really care. It’s a college campus, you have to expect it.

I think most people on campus don’t support him because he isn’t preaching free college education a $15 minimum wage, and political correctness.

Has anyone ever personally treated you negatively because you support Trump?

I don’t really talk to other people about the election. I’ve dealt with liberals enough to know that no matter what you say, they are not going to change their minds. I know if I did discuss this with someone it would probably just end in unnecessary hostilities which I prefer to avoid.

Do you think that people’s political opinions are their own personal affairs?

Yeah, everyone has had different upbringings that effect who they are and what they believe. Who are we to tell them what to think?

Do you ever share your opinions in class?

I do occasionally. In one of my political science classes we have been talking about the Ferguson, Missouri and the whole Michael Brown situation, and I tend to side with the police and most other students are pretty against the police. Things get pretty heated in these debates. 

I'm sure (classmates) have made up their opinions about me and who I am (because of my political beliefs) I can tell many people in my class are Bernie Sanders supporters so if I say anything different, I'm sure they'd fly off the handle so I just keep (my opinions) to myself usually.

Why are you attracted to a non-establishment candidate?

I don’t really care what a political party’s opinion is on a candidate and I don’t have any loyalties to a political party.

How did your upbringing shape your political views?

Growing up my parents never really talked to me about their political standings. My political views may have been shaped slightly by my parents, but my parents didn’t even tell me what their political views were until after I started identifying myself as being a conservative.

My political views were shaped a lot by what I saw in the 2008 presidential elections since that was around the time I started having an interest in politics.

Do you think trump will win the candidacy or the presidency?

I’m sure he will win the candidacy and hopefully the presidency.