BY ANA VASUDEVAN
In keeping with the spirit of Super Tuesday on March 1, the SAIS Europe Observer staff held a “closed primary” of its own to gauge the thoughts of students, faculty and staff on the current U.S. presidential candidates. With all the votes counted, SAIS Europe is clearly ready for Hillary.
With a pool of more than 220 possible voters, polling staff counted a total of 183 ballots. The ballot consisted of two parts that included indicating voter status as either an eligible American student voter or faculty member or an international student or faculty member; and choosing one person from the current candidate choices. The Democratic candidates on the ballot were Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and the five Republican candidates included Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump. There were 170 valid votes and 13 invalid ones that either marked two candidates or did not indicate voter status. The omission of the invalid votes would not sway the overall results.
Winning approximately 53 percent of the vote, Hillary Clinton emerged as the clear victor in the 2016 SAIS Europe Primary with Bernie Sanders in second place winning 30.6 percent. Marco Rubio was third with 8.8 percent of the vote. John Kasich received seven votes, Cruz got one vote, and former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson finished in last place with zero votes.
Current Republican frontrunner Donald Trump received two votes, at least one of which was declared by the voter as a joke. Additionally, among the responses in the poll were some “write-in” choices including former New York mayor and Johns Hopkins alum Michael Bloomberg, libertarian Gary Johnson, a vote of “no confidence” and even a vote for SAIS PhD candidate Brian Carlson.
The majority of votes cast came from American students with 105 valid votes. Of the American students, 58 voted for Clinton, 25 voted for Sanders and 13 voted for Rubio. There were a total of 56 valid international student votes, which were split evenly between Clinton and Sanders, though Clinton maintained a slight edge. Four American and six international faculty members stopped by to vote, with one American vote going to Rubio, but the majority to Clinton.
Additional voter identification information, such as name, age, gender and academic concentration was asked for only during voluntary exit interviews that were conducted after the polls closed. When asked to predict the overall winner of the SAIS election, three out of six exit interviewees correctly selected Clinton and the three others chose Sanders, but their predictions didn’t necessarily match their votes.
Almost consistently, exit interviewees acknowledged Sanders’ appeal to the younger generation as well as his stance on civic and social rights. Leonidas Marcantonatos, an international student and Clinton supporter, predicted that Sanders might win the SAIS primary. He said, “SAIS is not a good sample [of voters] because we are more aware, as political science or international relations students, of the issues being put at stake… there is also a paradox: although [Sanders] is very old, he represents something new.”
Speaking for the minority of voters at SAIS Europe, American student Christina Pushaw explained, “I voted for Marco Rubio because I perceive him as a representative of the next generation of the GOP. With Trump in the forefront, the Republican party is in the midst of an identity crisis. Rather than a demagogue, we need a pragmatic leader with a broader appeal… The Republican candidate must not polarize his/her party or marginalize potential voters due to their backgrounds.”
Finally, Mary D’Amico, an American student who worked for the Ready for Hillary PAC in 2014, stated, “I voted for Hillary because I believe that not only is she the most qualified candidate, but also that she will be the best candidate to protect my interests both at home and abroad.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Typo has been fixed at 17:15 GMT on 2 March 2016