UB gets political: Students discuss their opinions of the 2016 presidential election


When Hillary Clinton came to UB as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series in October 2013, people in the audience were anticipating an announcement that she was running for president in the 2016 election.

A year and a half later, Clinton announced she was running on Twitter.

“Unless something strange happens, it looks like the Democratic nominee is going to be Hillary Clinton,” said James Battista, a political science professor. “Of course, something strange can always happen. If she gets hit by a bus, she’s not going to be the next nominee since you can’t run from the grave.”

The media hype of the upcoming presidential election has politics becoming a more frequent topic of conversation for UB students.

There are 21 candidates running to become the leader of the free world. Five candidates are running under the Democratic ballot, while there are 16 candidates for the Republican ballot after Rick Perry announced his resignation from the race on Friday. As candidates are covered in the media and take stances on important issues like immigration and health care, members of UB are taking notice.

Alexis Ogra, president of UB College Republicans and a sophomore history major, believes this is because Americans are looking forward to new leadership.

“Kids my age are ready for change,” Ogra said. “People are ready for something different.”

While the election has been heating up in the national media, there are a few candidates who stand out – most notably Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side and Donald Trump for the Republicans.

Rebecca Meldrum, a freshman exercise science major, said she thinks Donald Trump is one candidate who upstages the rest, but not necessarily for the right reasons.

“I think he says things he thinks people want to hear,” she said. “He’s offending so many people.”

Trump has been in the spotlight for what some consider offensive comments ever since his announcement he was running for president – which caused him to lose several sponsors. The comments ranged from his plan to deport all illegal immigrants to derogatory statements about Fox News host Megyn Kelly. He has also insulted Arizona Senator John McCain’s military service because McCain was a prisoner of war.

Although James Sweeney, a senior aerospace engineering major, considers himself a conservative, he said he is not a fan of Trump.

“Although he’s a businessman, I don’t think he’s professional,” Sweeny said. “If he were our leader I don’t think it would represent us really well.”

Sanders, a senator from Vermont, has garnered a spotlight through social media among a younger audience. Meldrum said she thinks this is because he’s not appealing to the upper class, but to the common person.

“He really cares about the middle class,” Meldrum said. “He wants it to be better for us – the normal citizens – instead of the higher-ups.”

Laura Mannara, president of UB College Democrats and a senior economics and political science major, also said she thinks Sanders is a candidate with potential.

“Bernie Sanders has a lot to offer,” Mannara said. “He’s doing way better than anyone expected.”

Battista said that although Trump and Sanders have been gaining a lot of attention, there’s still a lot of time before the election takes place. He said people are paying so much attention to Trump and Sanders because they’re “up in the polls.” But looking at who’s in the polls at the moment doesn’t tell you a lot about who the nominee is going to be, he said.

Battista referenced the 2008 election, when Rudy Giuliani was leading the polls for the Republican Party around this time – about a year out from election day.

Ogra also said there’s too much time to tell what the outcome will be in 2016. Who’s in front now won’t necessarily be in front tomorrow.

“At the end of the day we’re all picking our favorites, but in the end we will pick the strongest candidates who will win the presidency,” Ogra said.

Marlee Tuskes is the assistant news editor and can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com.