Democrats win student vote down ticket in mock election

Kris Long, Sports Editor

Democrats swept the Manhattan High mock election held last week, from the Presidency, to the Senate to Kansas’ 1st Congressional district. 

Democrat Joe Biden took the largest margin of victory, with 527 votes. Republican Donald Trump received 346 and Libertarian Jo Jorgenson took 53. In the Senate, Democrat Barbra Bollier beat Republican Roger Marshall 489 to 347 with 95 votes going to Libertarian Jason Buckley. For the house, Democrat Kali Barnett won by the narrowest margin with 491 against Republican Tracy Mann with 440 votes. 

“I think I was expecting those results,” Young Democrats vice president Ronan Tanona said. “Manhattan is a more liberal environment than the rest of Kansas, and the school, young people also tend to support the Democratic Party but also tend to support the Independent and Libertarian parties.… so I expected Democrats to win but I definitely thought there would be a decent amount of support for the Libertarian candidates on the ticket too.”

Young Democrats and Young Republicans worked in conjunction to put on the mock elections last week. 

“They were working together to make that happen just to see if our building results are representative of our community and national results,” said Janet Stark, sponsor of both Young Democrats and Republicans. “It’d be an interesting thing to see.”

These results are decidedly more liberal than expected in the actual elections tomorrow. According to FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast, Biden is projected to win 53% of the national popular vote and 43% of Kansas’ vote, compared to 56% for Biden in the mock election. Marshall is projected to win Pat Robert’s place in the Senate — if more narrowly than usual for a Republican — taking 51% of the popular vote compared to a 52% margin in favor of Bollier at school. Mann is expected to win in a landslide, taking approximately 67% of the popular vote, against Barnett in the house.

In total there were 379 straight ticket Democratic votes and 269 Republican ones, meaning 70% of students did not cross party lines. This is lower than the expected national average of 80% straight ticket voters. The higher rate of mixed ballots follows the national tendency of younger voters to identify with third parties or not have a party affiliation at all. According to The Pew Research Center, about 16% of Gen Z voters are expected to split their tickets, the highest of any age group.

926 students voted out of the approximately 1,800 in the school, which was about what the clubs had expected. 

“I didn’t expect to get every student in the school to vote,” Tanona said. “I think it’s funnily enough reflective of actual voting patterns, because it’s  just something extra to do. And so a lot of people don’t vote as young people.”

The somewhat low turnout was one of the reasons Young Republicans and Democrats wanted to put on the mock elections in the first place. They hoped to allow students to engage students in politics before many of them are old enough to vote and raise awareness to the importance of voting.

“I think when we do any kind of simulation like this, it makes it more real,” Stark said. “They don’t get to vote until they’re 18 but they definitely have strong opinions well before the fact. Some of them disagree with the people who they live with and some of them agree, so it’s fun in their own limited way to be able to participate in that process.”

Young Republicans and Democrats believe that high school-aged students are capable of engaging in democracy before their 18th birthday, by encouraging participation in respectful debate and working for political causes they believe in.

“The leadership of those clubs is working very hard to elevate the level of discourse, how respectful it is, how informed it is and how factual it is,” Stark said. “The last couple exchanges that we’ve had here with the young people in our club, I would say surpass some of the expectations many adults have for adults who are running for office right now.”