Trump wins Iowa in annual Youth Straw Poll
Mock election insightful for both teachers and students
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The results are in, and Donald Trump has been declared the winner in Iowa.
That is, the Republican presidential nominee is the winner of the 2016 Iowa Youth Straw Poll conducted this week at more than 300 middle and high schools across the state.
With more than 56,000 ballots cast, Trump garnered 45 percent of the vote — 25,778 votes — beating out Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who received 35.6 percent of the vote — 20,004 votes. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson finished a distant third with 4,158 votes.
The annual poll is organized by the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office and gives students an opportunity to weigh in on the race for president, as well as U.S. Senate and House races.
At two Linn County high schools, the story was a little different.
Students at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids and Linn-Mar High School in Marion gave the nod in the race for president to Clinton. At Kennedy High, Clinton received 563 votes over Trump’s 467. At Linn-Mar High Clinton defeated Trump 46 percent to 34 percent.
Adrian Evans, a U.S. Government teacher at Kennedy High School, said he was a bit surprised by the results at Kennedy. While Clinton won the presidential race, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and Republican Rep. Rod Blum won their races by large margins, just as they did statewide.
“If you look at it race by race, it makes sense, but typically, kids in high school tend to be more Democratic than their parents,” Evans said. “So the fact that the Democratic side only really won in the presidential race, and it didn’t even get close in the other (races), surprised me a bit.”
Evans’s AP U.S. Government classes handled the ballots during the school’s election Tuesday, a job Evans said the students took very seriously.
“I think they’re ahead of the game in comparison to other states, simply because Iowa has got its first in the nation status with our caucus, so I think that really helps,” Evans said.
David Swaney, who teaches Government and AP U.S. Government at Linn-Mar, said he thinks the Youth Straw Poll is educational.
“I do think it’s just another good tool for civic education, to have them paying attention and participating in making their voices heard,” he said.
The poll offered some insight on how young Iowans are viewing the election — which was more eye-opening to some than others.
Johnathan Melvin, a senior at Linn-Mar and head of the Linn-Mar Republicans, helped count the roughly 1,900 votes cast by students.
Melvin, who described himself as an avid politics junkie and said he began following U.S. politics during the 2008 presidential race, said the school’s election was informational. While he knows most individuals in his age group aren’t involved in politics, Melvin said there were some who had never even heard of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
“It really opened my eyes to the lack of political education and basic proficiency that people have,” he said. “I mean, they’re young, they’re still in high school and they can’t vote so they have an opportunity to improve that, but it was startling.”
“The need for more civic education has never been more glaring,” he said.
While civics is a required class at Linn-Mar High School, Melvin said he wishes there was more that could be done to engage more students.
“While (the class) conveys the basics of government and political parties and all crucial information, a lot of people just don’t care,” he said. “I just wish there was a better way to get people interested in something that affects everyone.”
Although Melvin isn’t of age to participate in the election on Nov. 8, he said he believes Clinton will pull ahead with a slim margin.
Evans, meanwhile, believes it’s too close to call.
“I think it’s going to come down to a last-minute push by somebody and I think it’s going to be surprising either way,” he said.
Here are the results of the 2016 Iowa Youth Straw Poll conducted Tuesday at more than 300 middle and high schools throughout the state. Votes were cast in the races for president, U.S. Senate and U.S. House districts. The event was coordinated by the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.
Donald Trump, Republican: 46 percent
Hillary Clinton, Democratic: 35.6 percent
Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party: 7.4 percent
Jill Stein, Iowa Green Party: 3.4 percent
lDan Vacek, Legal Marijuana Now: 2.9 percent
Chuck Grassley, Republican: 62.2 percent
Patty Judge, Democratic: 25.2 percent
U.S. Representative — District 1
Rod Blum, Republican: 60.7 percent
Monica Vernon, Democratic: 39.3 percent
U.S. Representative — District 2
Dave Loebsack, Democratic: 50.0 percent (3,184)
Christopher Peters, Republican: 50.0 percent (3,179)
U.S. Representative — District 3
David Young, Republican: 56.2 percent
Jim Mowrer, Democratic: 31.0 percent
U.S. Representative — District 4
Steve King, Republican: 74.9 percent
Kim Weaver, Democratic: 25.1 percent
For all of The Gazette's Election 2016 coverage, please visit our election coverage center.