In one of the most contested U.S. presidential races in history it’s no surprise that voters are deeply split between candidates. And there’s no exception for college students, who are often times deeply invested in the political process.
The Elmhurst College chapter of the College Democrats of IL see this very division in their own organization.
Although most of the members refer to themselves as “Bernie Bros,” rather than Hillary fans, the divide is often the cause of impassioned discussions at meetings and democratic debate watch parties.
Estrella Vargas, a sophomore at Elmhurst College and a member of the EC Democrats of IL, says the debates between Clinton and Sanders supporters are all in good fun.
“The debates members have with each other at the watch parties are lively,” says Vargas. “And it doesn’t get out of hand.”
Although there may not be much animosity among Sanders and Clinton supporters in EC Dems, there is strong conflict among supporters on the campaign trail. Many Democratic voters are unwilling to support the democratic nominee if it is not the candidate they support.
According to a Wall Street Journal poll conducted in early March, a striking 33 percent of Sanders supporters said they would not vote for Hillary Clinton if she secured the democratic nomination.
Ben McAdams, a sophomore at Elmhurst College and a member of the EC Democrats of IL, is one of those Sanders supporters.
He said that he will not vote for Clinton if she is the nominee in November because he does not want to “just go with your average establishment politician who won’t make any real change.”
What makes this race one of such contention is the stark contrast between Clinton and Sanders.
One seems more polished and “politician-like”, while another appears to be more “authentic” or “transparent” to many voters.
Many Sanders supporters who say they will not vote for Clinton if she is on the democratic ticket in November argue that Clinton’s economic and foreign policies and special interests mirror that of moderate Republicans’ policies.
Caroline Prichard, a junior at Elmhurst College and a member of EC Democrats of IL, said that although there may be “light tension” between members when discussing the democratic candidates, members “respect each other’s opinions.”
“I think that Bernie supporters shouldn’t hate Hillary and vice versa,” Prichard added.
When asked if she would vote for Sanders if he secured the nomination, Prichard echoed the sentiment of most Clinton supporters.
“It is important to vote for whoever gets the nomination on the Democratic side,” she said. “Because it would be bad for America to get a Republican president.”