Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Students share thoughts on upcoming presidential election

Photo courtesy of Element5 Digital/Unsplash

As primaries and caucuses begin across the country this week, voters are starting to pick their choices for the 2024 presidential election. Though neither party has selected a candidate, the country awaits a probable rematch between former President Donald Trump and incumbent Joe Biden. 

A November survey from Emerson College Polling found that while Trump held a four-point lead over Biden for the presidency, Biden maintains a wide gap between himself and the other Democratic presidential candidates. As the incumbent, Biden has 66 percent of Democrats’ support, Marianne Williamson has five percent, and Dean Phillips has two percent, according to Emerson Polling figures. 

Despite facing dozens of felony counts for election interference, falsifying business records, and hoarding government documents, Trump continues to dominate the polls over his final opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, Nikki Haley. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, another contender for the Republican spot, dropped out of the race on Sunday and endorsed Trump. 

Trump won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night, beating Haley by approximately 11 points. While Trump still leads most polls, Haley said she’s not dropping out of the race. 

Some Emerson students expressed concerns about a Trump-Biden rematch. Max Spark, a freshman comedic arts major, said the 2024 election reminds him of past elections because there’s no “ideal pick.”

“It’s scary to consistently not feel pride in anyone you’re voting for,” Spark said. “You have to think critically, even if you hate both, and choose the one that sucks less.”

Spark also felt that hostility between candidates causes increased political polarization, making engaging with people with opposing views hard.  

“It feels like if you separate yourself from one side or have nuance, you’re completely outcast or viewed negatively,” Spark said. 

While many students see Biden as the best of some bad options, he’s not their ideal candidate. Freshman writing, literature, and publishing major Madison McMahon said Biden lacks confidence in tackling liberal issues and she would prefer a more radical approach. 

“I will be voting for Biden in November, but I don’t agree with a lot of what he says because he’s so much of a centrist,” said McMahon. “I’m basically just voting for him so Trump doesn’t win.”

On top of facing criminal indictments, Trump is also contending with states that plan to remove him from the Republican primary ballot. Colorado and Maine pursued efforts to reject his name based on the 14th Amendment, which states that a public official who has “engaged in insurrection” cannot run for office. 

These decisions were put on pause by the U.S. Supreme Court, and Colorado will defend its case in February on how Trump’s involvement in the capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021 invoked the clause. On Monday, the Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission denied an effort to remove Trump’s name from the state’s Republican presidential primary ballot.

A December survey from The New York Times/Siena College found that Trump leads Biden in voters aged 18-29 by six points. 

“I’m worried about Biden’s chances of beating Trump because he has lost some younger supporters with how he handled the Israel-Palestine conflict,” freshman VMA major Sara Bojarski said. 

The Biden Administration has been criticized for its continued military aid to Israel amid the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The U.S. is Israel’s most extensive military aid supplier, providing over $130 billion in bilateral assistance since Israel’s founding in 1948. 

“I think Biden could definitely be doing more to connect with young voters,” said freshman VMA major Maya Hall. “I think our generation really values knowing how different candidates will directly benefit our lives instead of hearing about how the other side is worse.”

A recent Gallup research study found that Trump and Biden’s favorability ratings are evenly matched at 41 percent and 42 percent, respectively. Biden’s average approval rating to date is 43 percent, which is lower than any president’s average rating since 1945

“As someone who strongly identifies with the Democratic Party, I am looking forward to voting in my first presidential election, especially considering what is at stake for the country,” said freshman Mia Cantacesso, a VMA major. “Do I agree with all of the democratic policies, especially as it pertains to decisions regarding global conflicts? I don’t. But I certainly know the alternative would be worse.

As less than half of the nation strongly favors either candidate, students are also seemingly dissatisfied with their options. 

“I believe this upcoming election is about preventing Trump from becoming re-elected more than it is about putting Biden back in office,” Cantacesso said. 

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About the Contributor
Emma Siebold
Emma Siebold, Staff Writer
Emma Siebold (she/her) is a first-year journalism major/political communications minor from Spring Branch, Texas. She is also an associate producer for WEBN-TV and editorial assistant at Emerson Today. Outside of the newsroom, Emma enjoys training with the Dashing Whippets running team, listening to folk music, and obsessing over Marvel movies.

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