More than 26,000 high school students across Iowa — including juniors at Abraham Lincoln High School — beat the state’s caucuses by voting in a straw poll Tuesday at their schools.
The survey is administered annually by the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office. If it is not an election year, the poll is about a topic of public interest, said Bryan Pregon, social studies teacher at A.L. The topics sometimes interest students more than political candidates, he said.
The A.L. students voted on their Chromebooks using an application that allowed their teachers to see the totals. Results were sent in to the Secretary of State’s Office so statewide results could be totaled.
Statewide, President Trump easily won among Republican candidates, with 8,639 votes, or 91.6%. Also receiving votes were Joe Walsh with 478 votes, or 5.1%; and Bill Weld with 317 votes, or 3.4%.
On the Democratic side, Andrew Yang captured the most votes with 3,682 (22.5%), followed by Bernie Sanders with 3,441 (21%), Pete Buttigieg with 2,921 (17.8%), Joe Biden with 1,878 (11.5%), Elizabeth Warren with 1,576 (9.6%) and Tom Steyer with 1,557 (9.5%). All others received less than 1,000 votes.
At Abraham Lincoln, where candidates were not separated by party, Bernie Sanders was the top vote-getter with 43.8%. He was followed by Trump with 18.1%, Buttigieg with 14.3%, Yang with 6.7%, Steyer with 3.8% and Warren with 2.9%.
In 2016, A.L. students voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton, 45% to 35%, said Myron Wilder, also a social studies teacher at the school.
“You guys are actually a pretty good indicator of who’s going to be president,” he told students.
That’s because the students’ votes mostly reflect the views of their parents, Pregon said.
“At this stage, I think it’s still pretty parent-driven,” he said, adding, “Social media has an influence more than it did 15 years ago.”
Several of Wilder’s students — all juniors — shared their thoughts after answering the straw poll.
Tyler Hartmann said he had voted for Yang.
“I think he’s focusing on the correct things,” he said. “Instead of just the economy, it’s the environment and other things.”
Tyler said he had met some Yang volunteers who came to his house but hasn’t seen any of the candidates in person.
Ileana Lopez said she voted for Sanders.
“My family’s Democratic, basically,” she said. “I just saw that my brother and my dad were going to vote for him. I’m not really politically involved.”
Jack Van Houten said he voted for Trump.
“I supported Trump because he wants to keep guns, and I’m a firm believer in that,” he said. “I’ve seen the economy go up, and I think he’s headed in the right direction. I also like that he built up the military to protect us.”
Sam Camp voted for Buttigieg, he said.
“I like his philosophy on trying to get everybody cheaper college,” he said. “College is not something that’s very affordable to me.”
Sam said he hadn’t seen Buttigieg in person but had seen him in one of the televised debates.
The statewide vote on U.S. Senate candidates was clear-cut on the Republican side, where Sen. Joni Ernst garnered 100% of the 10,377 votes. On the Democratic side, it was Kimberly Graham, 3,629 votes (32.8%); Theresa Greenfield, 2,191 (19.8%); Michael Franken, 2,141 (19.4%); Eddie Mauro, 1,711 (15.5%); and Cal Woods, 1,392 (12.6%).
At Abraham Lincoln, Graham edged out Ernst with 35.7% to her 33.7%. Following in the distance were Woods at 9.2%, Franken at 8.2%, Greenfield with 7.1% and Mauro with 6.1%.
Total state votes on the District 3 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives were, among Republicans, David Young, 2,406 (70.2%) and Bill Schafer, 1,023 (29.8%). Among Democrats, incumbent Cindy Axne received 3,860 votes – 100% of those cast.
At Abraham Lincoln, Axne dominated the race with 70% of the vote. Republican David Young received 24%, and Republican Bill Schafer got 6%.
The vast majority of the students — 85.2% statewide and 83.8% at A.L. — said they planned to register to vote when they were old enough, while the remainder said they would not.
The Iowa caucuses will be held Monday. For more information, go to pottcoelections.org and click on “2020 Iowa Caucus” under “Upcoming & Recent Elections.”