What South Carolina Young Voters Want in Their Next President

What South Carolina Young Voters Want in Their Next President

Photo: Hill Street Studios via Getty Images

Young South Carolina voters are ready for their voices to be heard in 2020, and they expect the candidates to listen. 

Historically, young voters have been unreliable when it comes to voter turnout. But if the 2018 midterm election offers any clues, millennials and Gen Z will play a key role in electing the country’s next president. 31 percent of 18- to 29-year-old voters cast a ballot in 2018, according to data from CIRCLE, a Tufts University center that studies youth civic engagement. The data represents a 10 percent increase compared to the 2014 election. 

For many South Carolina college-aged voters, Saturday’s Democratic primary will be the first time they vote in a general election. These young voters are concerned about an array of issues including health care, climate change, affordable housing and student loan debt. 

John David Reinhart, 21, The University of South Carolina

“I want as boring of a presidential candidate as possible.

“Not by political opinion. I just don’t want someone who’s going to get a presidency out of notoriety and name recognition. I’m tired of that.

“(Barack) Obama, very rightfully so, was a landmark candidate. But it made for a lot of newsworthy political candidacies in the future. Donald Trump is obviously that guy.”

Lauren Harper, 26, Columbia, SC

“Speaking from the perspective of other folks who are my age, I’m seeing a lot of people concerned about paying off their student loan debt. It’s affecting their ability and desire to do things like buy a house or keep their good credit score.

“[I want] someone who is an exciting candidate, who is able to present not necessarily new ideas, but new and fresh perspective on ideas, and also someone who is very inclusive about bringing in folks who are of a diverse background — whether it’s ethnic diversity, age diversity, gender diversity, experiential diversity.”

Mary Frances Huggins, 19, Clemson University

“[I want a candidate] who stays off the media, unless he or she is informing us of important information.  

“[Donald Trump] did a good job economic-wise, but I think he should just stay off the internet and leave that to his press people. Like, they’re not going to be biased on Twitter like Trump is. Because he just leaves a bad reputation on what America is, and we’re not all like that.”

Jackson Nietart, 20, University of South Carolina

“The next president’s gonna have to focus on health care for U.S. citizens, and they’re going to have to focus on climate change.

“I think it’s terrible that there are people having to choose between rent and insulin. Like, we have a system that’s really not working the best, not working the most efficiently. And it looks like a lot of other countries have figured out a plan that humanizes its citizens, and doesn’t make them go into debt or make these tough decisions.”

Coralys Rios, 19, College of Charleston

“Mental health is something that’s really important to me. 

“Like, it just seems like no one really cares about mental health lately, even though it’s like one of the most important things that we should care about. [I want a president who] will fight for the future.” 

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