By Andi TenBarge
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders may be a 74-year-old senator from Vermont, but his popularity seems to be the strongest among young voters.
Unlike his opponent Hillary Clinton, Sanders is depending on young voters to get out and caucus in Iowa on Monday night. Sanders is encouraging college students to go home and caucus. If he can do that, he believes he is likely to secure Iowa in the race for the Democratic nomination.
“If there is a high voter turnout, we will win,” Sanders said at his rally at the University of Iowa Saturday night.
This comes after the 2008 Democratic nomination battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama when more than 200,000 people caucused for Democrats. Because of the high voter turnout among young voters, Obama was able to win Iowa.
And in 2016, young voters are still not fired up about Hillary Clinton.
“A lot of people are wondering why Bernie Sanders is so appealing to younger people even though he’s an older man. It’s because of what he stands for, and Hillary is not standing for young people,” 20-year old Priscila Monsivais, Chicago, said. “She stands for big banks and every time I see her that’s what I see.”
Sanders is spending his final days in Iowa traveling to different cities touting his platform to fight for equality, climate change and campaign finance reform.
“I think the most popular word is that he’s genuine. He’s authentic. He says what he means, and the fact that he fights for black, brown, and like different people is just something that no other candidate has the privilege to admit,” said 20-year-old Jocelyn Robeldeo, a student from the University of Illinois.
Robeldeo said Sanders speaks to the issues that not only she cares about, but her peers as well. She is one of 60 students from her university who traveled to Iowa to show their support for the candidate.
Sanders also spent a chunk of his time on the campaign trail attacking super political action committees – Super PACs – and their donors, which is another issue young voters say is important to them. He said this election is a pivotal moment in history, because Super PACs are jeopardizing the American democracy. He described democracy as “one person, one vote.”
“If people don’t like my ideas, fine. That’s called democracy. Vote against me. Vote for somebody else. I don’t have a problem with that,” Sanders said at an event in Manchester Saturday. “But I do have a problem when you have a handful of billionaires like the Koch brothers and a few of their friends (who) are prepared to spend $900 million in this campaign cycle.”
Throughout his campaign, Sanders has prided himself on not accepting campaign dollars from super PACs funded by billionaires and corporate. People like the conservative super-funders the Koch brothers, who Sanders claims try to “buy elections.”
“I think he’s sort of anti-establishment,” said 27-year-old Kathryn Stack, a caucus precinct captain at Sanders’ Cedar Rapids event. “And he’s speaking to issues that a lot of politicians don’t want to talk about and I think regular Americans really want to hear someone actually advocate on our behalf.”