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University of Oregon Students Talk About Voting For President

Oregonians will vote in the presidential primary on May 17 th. We checked in with some University of Oregon students, many of whom are voting for the first time.

Xander Berenstein is a senior at the U of O. He’s double majoring in math and biology. He co-founded the UO for Bernie Sanders group. He says he has many reasons to support the Vermont Senator.

Berenstein: “He has a consistent record and history of standing up for working class people, and for minorities, and people really who don’t have a voice.”

Berenstein likes Sanders grass-roots campaign.

Berenstein:  “It’s us that are the campaign. It’s not Bernie Sanders and his staff. We are the campaign. We are coming together to really take back our country.”

Despite Sander’s recent primary losses, Berenstein feels his candidate still has a good chance of being the democratic nominee. He’s confident in Sanders chances of winning the Oregon primary.

Berenstein: “It’s looking really good for us in Oregon. In Oregon it’s not really a question of are we going to win it’s, are we going to be able to get as many delegates as we possibly can?”

So far Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate that’s visited the Eugene area. He rallied about 8 thousand people at Island Park in Springfield last week.

Madison Moscowitz is a Hillary Clinton supporter. She’s a sophomore at the U of O studying political science.

Moscowitz: “Secretary Clinton has served much more diverse populations. She’s represented the country as a whole both domestically and abroad. And I think that foreign policy experience is really important as well as her record on gun control and reproductive rights.”

Moscowitz says most of her fellow students are Sanders supporters. She says that makes sense since he has a big following among college students nationwide.

Moscowitz expects Oregon to go for Bernie in the primary election but she doesn’t think he’s going to make it to the general. She hopes the Bernie or Bust folks get behind Clinton in November. She says if Trump is the republican nominee, there’s good reason for Democrats to unite.

Moscowitz: “That you would let the White House fall into the hands of such an extreme demagogue Republican means you don’t have a lot to lose.”

This will be Moscowitz’s first time to vote in an election. She’s been doing social media for the Clinton campaign.

Moscowitz: “I just turned 20. I definitely remember watching Obama got elected for the first time and having all of my parents and friends at this election party just sobbing and it was so monumental and kind of formative for me.

Tucker Billman is a junior political science major. He says he originally liked Ben Carson, but since Carson dropped out of the race Billman has found another candidate.

Billman: “I decided I was going to support Ted Cruz because I was looking for someone that was not your typical quote unquote establishment republican. I wanted someone who went to Washington with an agenda that was very clear and very understandable and that actually tried to implement that agenda and was willing to fight the establishment on both sides.”

Billman says he has been politically aware since he was in second grade.

Billman: “I grew up in a very rural community, very small farm, ranch and logging town, so we watched Fox news. When all the other kids would go out to recess the teachers would come in and they would turn on Fox news to see the election. And I would just stay inside with them and watch it.”

That was during the 2000 election. Billman says now as a college student he doesn’t have a lot of opportunities for political involvement because he feels the U of O is so liberal—and he’s so far right.

Billman says after he graduates he might go to law school, work for a campaign, and maybe, someday, run for office.

Junior economics major Justin MacDonald also had planned to vote for another candidate; he liked Marco Rubio. But now he says he’ll vote for Donald Trump.

MacDonald: “Originally I thought some of things he did and the way he acted were un-presidential, but the more I learned about his policies, his tax reform, his foreign policy, and watching him speak, I think the media kind of portrayed him as this unhinged monster who’s racist and bigoted, and the more I’ve opened my eyes the more I’ve realized that’s just not true.”

MacDonald says he volunteers with the UO College Republicans, but as a conservative it can be hard to get involved in politics on campus.

MacDonald: “If you say you’re a republican I almost feel like it’s a nasty word. That’s for professors, for students—they automatically assume things about you. You might dislike women, or you’re racist, or you just don’t care about people.”

MacDonald says even though he doesn’t agree with many of his peers, he does appreciate the level of political awareness at the University of Oregon.

MacDonald: “Getting out your vote and making some change in the world, especially the country, is an important thing. No matter who you vote for you should definitely register to vote.”

The deadline to vote is May 17 th.

Madison Moscowitz is a Hillary Clinton supporter
Rachael McDonald /
Madison Moscowitz is a Hillary Clinton supporter

Justin MacDonald is voting for Donald Trump
Justin MacDonald /
Justin MacDonald is voting for Donald Trump

Copyright 2016 KLCC

Rachael McDonald is KLCC's All Things Considered host. She also reports on a variety of topics including local government, education, and breaking news.
Kyra Buckley
Kyra Buckley has been a volunteer in KLCC’s newsroom since August 2015. She will graduate from the University of Oregon in December 2015 with a BA in Journalism and Political Science. At the UO she held leadership positions on student run publications like Envision, an online environmental magazine, and This Oregon Life, a storytelling podcast.