Three years ago, the Carrboro freshman class watched as Republican candidate Donald Trump was sworn into office in a shocking upset election against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Nearing the end of 2019, the same Carrboro class, now seniors, watch as the election process unfolds and the primaries roll by once more.
While the 2016 primarily featured a battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, 2020 has effectively allowed the most candidates battling for a nomination out of any of the previous elections. The 2016 Republican primary saw a 243 percent increase in candidates compared to the 1988 election, and the 2020 Democratic primary saw a 357 percent increase in candidates compared to the same election.
So does the increased number of candidates create a lack of interest among the election, especially for Carrboro’s rookie voters?
In looking at Carrboro, and specifically the voter patterns of Orange County, Hillary Clinton took the county with 72.8 percent of the vote in 2016. While it is safe to say that Carrboro and Orange County generally lean democratic, there are still questions surrounding who is being backed this election by local Democrats.
“To me, it actually feels like my friends are more invested in and interested in the 2020 election than the 2016 election,” said Isabel Simmons.
“I worked on the Clinton campaign in 2016, and while most of my friends supported me, none were interested in a similar endeavor,” said Simmons. “In regards to the older, more middle-aged population, I almost feel as though they are less interested when I think about adults I’ve interacted with on the topic.”
A study by Fox News from mid-September says that 59 percent of voters nationwide are highly interested in the election, surpassing the 32 percent from 2016. Simmons sees this in Carrboro.
“The ability to vote plays into a feeling of efficacy necessary to drive involvement. I think adults may be less interested because they feel jaded or worn down by the increasingly negative political system,” she said.
Simmons concluded by emphasizing how voting increases the interest of Carrboro seniors, even if a large candidate pool can create more confusion among who to support.
“Now, I feel like a much larger volume of my friends is seeking out ways to be involved in the 2020 election — and I think that is because in this cycle, we can vote.”