Gambier, Ohio — As Ohio goes, so goes the nation, and I don’t have a single relative or family friend who will ever let me forget that.
Not that I would.
I grew up in New York but have never voted there. I know how valuable my vote is here in Ohio, where I’m a senior at Kenyon College in rural Knox County. People in Ohio and at Kenyon College take this responsibility seriously. In 2004, long lines at our polling location forced students to wait in the cold for hours at a time.
This year, Kenyon College Democrats, along with the Hillary Clinton campaign, made a push for early voting specifically to avoid long and cold waits on November 7. Recent campaign stops by Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine, followed by get-out-the vote efforts by celebrities like Lance Bass of*NSYNC and actors from the television series Orange is The New Black have excited students, reminding us how important our votes are for this election.
Though I don’t know how much reminding or prodding students here really need. Kenyon students volunteered to register voters and plan to drive other students to the polls to vote early. Dozens are making phone calls and canvassing in the surrounding area or in Columbus to make sure everyone votes.
Some students here are more enthusiastic for Hillary Clinton’s candidacy than they are for Donald Trump, which seems to be the overall trend with many in my generation. Yet many say they feel she won’t fulfill the promises she has made during the campaign. Others, like me, are ardent supporters — and have been if not since the primary season, than certainly since she clinched the nomination. I also know many members of the Kenyon community who are lifelong Republicans but cannot bring themselves to vote for their parties’ nominee. Many are happily casting votes for Clinton and Kaine, while others will do so very reluctantly.
There is very vocal opposition to Trump all over campus. Most students, excluding only those voting for Trump, are clear in their great disdain for the man and his candidacy. Even professors seem to be fairly uniform in their opposition to his candidacy and antics. You would be very hard pressed indeed to find many Trump supporters at Kenyon, and the ones we have here, to my knowledge are not, for the most part, broadcasting their support.
Other young Republicans I know on campus are undecided. Some will vote for Gov. Gary Johnson, who does not have much chance of winning any state, let alone the election.
There are a few Trump supporters on campus. I am honestly not sure how many. Nor surprisingly, none are especially vocal about their support. There may be a few Trump stickers, and one flag in the window of an apartment, but no loud or obvious support. There are also students here who are very much against Trump, but also suspicious and even hostile to Clinton’s candidacy. This group has reservations about her trustworthiness, especially in regards to her e-mail issues, though being seen as untrustworthy has been an issue that has dogged her entire public career.
Often, they feel that because there has been so much smoke surrounding the Clinton’s, surely there must be fire, or certainly criminal wrongdoing. While I disagree with this assessment wholeheartedly, I can at least conceptualize why many voters feel this way. It is just a different side of the coin that makes many young voters unsure if Clinton will fulfill her campaign promises to them. The liberal wing of the Democratic party, especially those who were for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primaries, don’t trust Clinton but think their distrust is far more justified than the distrust more conservative voters feel towards her.
The only real difference is that the liberal group that distrusts Clinton will overwhelmingly swallow their mistrust or misgivings and vote for her, or already have. Largely this is due to a much greater fear of Donald Trump’s America, and what it would mean for them and this country. The other group, those who distrust Clinton’s integrity in the face of so many accusations, may not be voting for her. This group also seems to face more resistance to the validity of their misgivings, even outright hostility.
I do not mean to defend either of these positions. I think both are unbelievably misguided views of a flawed candidate and person; because all people and therefore candidates are flawed. However, the more liberal group seems to project a good deal of vitriol on the other group, which seems odd when these groups seem to agree on their views of Clinton.
Overall, these reservations don’t matter much. Most will vote for Clinton because the prospect of a Trump presidency is simply too repulsive. And many voting for Clinton will really be voting against Trump, either because of his racism, his lack of any real qualifications or policy ideas, his vitriolic tone, or his comments and behavior towards women.
In my view, demographics aren’t with Trump this election. Minority voters and women voters listen, they have heard over and over how he truly feels about them, and hopefully they will vote.
Which is a small comfort, but I won’t be so calm until it’s all over, and the lady in the pantsuit wins.
Emily Margolin is a senior at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where she majors in political science, and vice president of the Kenyon College Democrats.