Disenchanted with Clinton, Trump, many younger voters going third party
By Kelly Thomas | October 4, 2016, 5:30 EDT
BOSTON – Nearly half of all younger voters currently plan to cast their ballots for third party candidates this November, according to a national study released this month by Quinnipiac University.
The poll of voters aged 18-34 showed 44 percent are dissatisfied with the Republican and Democratic candidates for president. Twenty-nine percent of those polled said they are supporting Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson; 15 percent said they are planning to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
In a four-way match-up, 26 percent of millennial voters support Trump, compared to 31 percent for Clinton. Clinton’s former rival Bernie Sanders, who remains popular with millennials, has joined Clinton on the campaign trail, urging younger voters to consider that a vote for a third-party candidate will help Trump win the White House. Clinton has also recruited First Lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and President Obama to campaign on her behalf with younger voters.
But many millennial voters cite distrust of Clinton and disdain for Trump, as well as a principled aversion to the U.S. two-party system, as reasons to support a third party candidate, irrespective of the outcome. Jamze Gillogly, a 24-year-old registered Democrat in the swing state of Ohio, voted for Sanders in the primary, but now plans to cast a ballot for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
“If a third-party vote were a protest vote, this is absolutely the time for a protest vote,” said Gillogly. “Because we have two of the most unfavorable main-party candidates in all of American history.”
Kiera O’Brien, a Harvard freshman and member of the college’s Republican Club, who is preparing to cast her first vote in a presidential election this fall, says she feels the party she grew up believing in has been “hijacked” by Trump and his supporters.
“I’m choosing to support Gary Johnson because I don’t believe either major party candidate represents my political beliefs or values,” O’Brien said. The Harvard Republican Club publicly denounced Trump this past August.
Edgar Carrero, the co-president of Harvard’s Libertarian Forum, will also be casting a ballot for Gary Johnson this November, citing a disappointment in the two-party system. “Both establishment parties are big government parties that have failed to serve anyone’s interests but their own in recent times,” Castro said.
Carrero believes Johnson provides the best hope for a third party candidate to break the monopoly that Democrats and Republicans have traditionally held over the U.S. political system.
“We need real change in Washington and a sexist demagogue and corrupt lifetime politician will not bring that necessary change.”
O’Brien added that many Republicans have criticized her decision not support Trump after her preferred candidate, Marco Rubio, exited the race. But for O’Brien, as for many millennials on both sides of the aisle this election cycle, principles outrank party loyalty.