Iowa Youth Straw Poll: Iowa students say it's Trump and Sanders

More than 280 schools in 80 counties participate in Iowa Youth Straw Poll

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If Iowa’s young people are mirroring their parents’ opinions, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders might expect to have a good night Monday at the first-in-the-nation caucuses kicking off the 2016 presidential nomination.

More than 50,000 students participated Tuesday in the statewide 2016 Iowa Youth Presidential Straw Poll — the largest turnout yet for the balloting organized and tabulated by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate.

Participating students in more than 280 schools in over 80 counties across Iowa were allowed to vote in both the Republican and the Democratic straw polls.

“I think it’s important that young people’s voices are heard and that we give them an early opportunity to participate in our elections,” said Pate, who offered the straw poll as part of the “Caucus 101” curriculum developed by his office for Iowa schools.

Students participating in the Straw Poll included grades kindergarten through 12 with varied age groups and grades, depending on the school.

When the results were tabulated statewide, Trump topped the Republican side and Sanders overwhelmingly won the Democratic side.

At Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, students agreed that Sanders was the winner on the Democratic side.

But Trump came in only third there — behind “other” and behind top vote-getter Marco Rubio.

“We are a very intelligent class,” said one of the Washington students participating, sophomore Brian Huston, 15, who was in an advanced placement class that saw no votes for Trump.

Frank Scherrman, one of 10 participating teachers at the high school, said students during this campaign cycle seem to be more aware, educated and involved than in 2012.

“It helps that both parties are caucusing,” he said, adding that national attention on Iowa attracts students — as do the newsmakers.

“They like the drama,” he said. “They like the anger of Trump. They like to be angry at Trump.”

One of his students verified that sentiment.

“A lot of what Trump says is dealing with race,” said sophomore Mackenzie Hayes, 15. “And part of his support is coming from the fact that he’s saying things, and other people are joining him and saying, ‘Well, that’s OK then.’”

Hayes said she leans Democrat and cast her votes for Sanders and Republican candidate John Kasich, as students were asked to choose from each party.

Students in the class said their poll could offer clues to next week’s results — that many opinions might mimic what’s heard at home.

“Because I think a lot of kids are around that, and that’s what they hear,” said Huston, the sophomore.

He, for example, supported Ted Cruz in Tuesday’s student poll and said his parents were planning to do the same next week.

Statewide, here’s how the student votes were tabulated Tuesday night — although more results are expected to come in Wednesday”

Republicans: Trump at 25 percent; Rubio at 18.4 percent; Ben Carson at 18 percent; Cruz at 15 percent; Jeb Bush at 6.8 percent; Carly Fiorina at 3.4 percent; Rand Paul at 3.3 percent; Chris Christie at 1.7 percent; Mike Huckabee at 1.6 percent; John Kasich at 1.1 percent; and Rick Santorum and Jim Gilmore with less than 1 percent.

Democrats: Sanders at 53 percent; Hillary Clinton at 30 percent’ and Martin O’Malley at 10 percent.

To see how each participating school voted, go to and select the “resources’ tab.

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