Democrat hopeful Bernie Sanders handily captured the youth vote in a mock primary election Tuesday at Steele High School.
The Vermont senator took 239 votes during a lunch-time straw poll. Former first lady and secretary of state Hillary Clinton, considered by many pundits to be the party’s front-runner, found little support with just 47 votes.
Republican Donald Trump took the right by storm with 135 student votes, followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 60.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz placed a distance second among candidates on the right with 39 ballots and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was dead last with 21.
We found freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior government students running class “precincts” in the Steele cafeteria late Tuesday morning.
Juniors Alicia Cruz and Sydney Champe were among those manning party ballot boxes and were eager to talk about their observations.
They picked Sanders to sweep the Democratic vote but had expected Rubio or Kasich to find the top on the Republican side.
But neither teen was optimistic about their classmates’ knowledge when visiting the mock polls.
“I feel they’re not that interested,” Cruz said, while Champe added, “They’re pretty much voting for who their parents are voting for.”
Both felt a 13-minute special election broadcast by Amherst television production students may have left viewers a little more informed, however.
Sophomore Noah Mortach was one student we found slipping his pro-Trump ballot into the box.
“My parents were going to vote for him and I liked his policies on immigration and economics. I don’t really know much about him but that’s what I’ve heard,” he said.
A few moments later, senior Robin Liepold cast her ballot in support of Clinton: “She just seems more moderate than Sanders,” she told us.
Teacher Michelle Webb, who helped to organize the mock election, said she felt it proved a valuable learning experience for her students.
It was the first time teens were given a chance to take part in such an experiment in recent memory, she said — and teachers intend to stage another round of student polling during the November general election.
A key part of Tuesday’s activity was to encourage eligible students to register to vote. Twenty-three took that step, Webb said.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Alicia Cruz and Sydney Champe take ballots in the mock primary election Tuesday at Amherst Steele High School.