In Deep Blue Connecticut, King Bleeds Bright Red

Brandon Ross, Reporter, Sports Editor

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brandon1Some believe they may come to despise this year, while others see it as a turning point for the better in our nation’s history. Nevertheless, 2016 is an election year, one that has deeply divided the country into “socialists” and “fascists”, “deplorables” and “crooks”, “racists” and “traitors”. In this year’s political chaos, mud-slinging and general disrespect have merely become a fact of our reality.

King School isn’t like this: most students and faculty are kind, accepting, and open-minded to outside ideas. Yet when it comes to political ideology, there is certainly a hard divide. As the Standard has decided to gauge the King student body’s view on this election, it is important to understand the demographics of where those students come from.

Welcome to Fairfield County

Ask any political expert to describe Connecticut, and they would say it falls among the most liberal states in the nation. In and of itself, Fairfield County is of little difference. However, looking at the towns that send King most of its students, it is clear that a different pattern begins to emerge.

Fairfield is a county where, in 1992, George H.W. Bush was the last Republican presidential nominee to win the Fairfield County vote. The last Republican presidential nominee to win the Fairfield County vote was George H.W. Bush, back in 1992. In fact, Obama won Fairfield county by over 10% in both the 2008 and 2012 elections, which comes to surprise of few. According to the CT Post*, the number of unaffiliated voters in Fairfield, 195,108, far outweigh the 167,749 Democrats and 121,345 Republicans. However, in a mostly liberal state in an increasingly liberal society, one can reasonably project a large number of unaffiliated voters to go left on election day.

A few of the towns and cities that brings King most of its students are Stamford, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, and Darien. Let’s look at every town by the numbers:

Stamford: Though the numbers are close between Democrats and unaffiliated voters, Republicans have little presence in Stamford. While 39.99% of registered Stamford voters are Democrats and 36.92% are unaffiliated, Republicans account for a measly 21.37% of the registered voters.

Norwalk: Norwalk is easily the most liberal town accounting for a significant portion of the King student body. Of the 44,370 registered voters in Norwalk, 36.50% are registered Democrats and 19.49% are registered Republicans. But the unaffiliated voters account for the majority in Norwalk, as they account for 41.89% of the registered voters. The remaining 2.12% account for voters registered to third parties.

Greenwich: Unlike Stamford and Norwalk, Greenwich has many residents with Republican party allegiance, as they account for 38.48% of the town’s registered voters. Meanwhile, unaffiliated voters account for exactly 36% of the voters while Democrats account for only 24.41%.

Darien: It may come as little surprise that Darien, a town listed by CNN Money as number nine on their list of the United States’ top-earning towns, has a voter base with a Republican majority. Out of 12,204 registered voters, 47.37% are registered Republicans. The amount of unaffiliated voters is also high, as they account for 33.85%. This leaves only 18.32% of registered voters in Darien as registered Democrats while the remaining 0.46% are registered to third parties.

New Canaan: In a town with a size and demographic similar to Darien, New Canaan is the crown jewel of Republican towns in the King community, with a staggering 50.61% of the towns 12,519 registered voters aligning with the Republican party. Unaffiliated voters account for only 29.16% of those registered in New Canaan, making it the only high-profile town among King-matriculating families that has an unaffiliated voter ratio below 30%. Additionally, 19.71% of the town’s voters are Democrats and the final 0.52% of voters are registered to third parties.

“King Towns”: Amongst the “King towns” – towns where the majority of the King student body resides – the majority of voters are not affiliated with a political party. With 156,994 registered voters in the King towns, 37.30% are unaffiliated, while 32.68% are Democrats and only 28.51% are Republican.

However, these figures should not fool you. Although New Canaan and Darien are both very visibly Republican towns, both have very small populations, and therefore have very small voter registration and very little impact on the general consensus. (It should be noted, for example, that the number of registered Democrats in Norwalk beat the total number of registered voters in both Darien and New Canaan by almost 4,000.)

This difference in political majority in the King towns is in all staggering, because of the vast differences of allegiance between the towns, and unsurprising, because of how the differences reflect on our students.

* represents voter registration as of October 2015

Welcome to King School

It is a common belief that most children adopt political ideologies from their parents. If one were to reflect on the voter registration from some of the King towns listed above, that theory would have a proven basis.

In a survey sent out to the entire student body, the Standard asked respondents who they support for president, why they support that candidate, what party they most align with, and what they believe are the most important issues in this year’s election. Out of 348 upper school students, 120 of them, approximately 35%, responded to the survey.

On The Issues

The survey asked every respondent to list what they felt was the most important issue in this year’s election. From the 120 respondents, more than twenty listed the most important issue as having to do with foreign or economic policies.

“We need a candidate that will improve our economy and job growth,” said senior Ben Nadler in advocating his support for Donald Trump. “Not allowing potential threats in the country (Syrian refugees) is also very important.”

Other prominent issues included gun control measures, addressing climate change, fixing our nation’s racial divide, and pushing for gender equality.

In regards to the political stances of King students, the data from the King towns above is made evident among respondents. In total, an astounding 43.3% of students said that they identify as Republicans. This is sensible when taking into account the class of most King families and where in Fairfield county they come from. In comparison, only 21.7% of the student body identified as Democrats while 20.8% don’t align with a party. 8.3% of students also identified as Libertarians and 5.9% listed themselves as aligning with other third parties. (Note: Some responses to other were jokes, including a Trump supporter who listed his party as “Jedi” and a Clinton supporter who listed his party as “ya mum”.) There was also one respondent who put “Independent” as other when in fact that falls in the category of not aligning with a party.

The Big Question

brandon2In the survey sent on behalf of the Standard, Yearbook, and Young Republicans club, 40% of respondents said that they would/will vote for the Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, more than any other candidate in the survey.

Trump has certainly been one of the most controversial candidates for the oval office in our nation’s history, with what many perceive as sexist remarks and non-presidential behavior headlining major news networks on an almost daily basis. However, many students are looking beyond that:

“Trump is the best person on the ballot to run our country,” said senior Ben Steib, looking to the fact that there are certainly other issues with Hillary Clinton that make Trump the more preferable candidate. Yet other students simply see an outsider to the Washington political hierarchy who can take America in a new, more positive direction.

“[Trump] has the type of leadership that our country is lacking and has been lacking for the past 8 years,” said junior Abby Price, echoing the opinion of many Trump supporters that the Obama administration has shown weak leadership and that Clinton would only continue that tradition.

Among other things, many other respondents supporting Trump pointed to Clinton’s emails and other scandals, along with a couple of students who simply labeled their reasoning: “Build the wall”.

On the other side of the aisle, 31.7% of the respondents support Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Clinton has seen her own share of controversies over the years spanning from Whitewater, to Benghazi, to the Clinton Foundation, to her private email server. However, some students look past that and see her thirty years of public service as a First Lady, US Senator, and Secretary of State.

“She actually has the experience and qualifications to do the job,” said junior Riley Jones of Clinton.

Further, even though Clinton has had her share of controversy, some students pointed to Donald Trump as a far greater demon.

“Though Hillary has had many scandals in the past year, she has not done anything explicitly illegal,” junior Rachel Bissell explained in a lengthy response. “He is also involved in many legal cases that are very damaging. The Trump University has taken many people’s money without providing any classes that the university promised. Then, Trump using donations to his charity foundation to pay off the main lawyer charging him in this case.” She also went on to explain that Trump’s many offensive remarks are another factor that lead her to support Clinton.

Both sides of the aisle tend to point to the other’s deficiencies as reasoning to stand behind their candidate. And yet, there is also a large contingency of the student body that believes both candidates are too problematic to offer support, as 21.7% of survey respondents refused to support any candidate in the 2016 election.

“I think they are all ludicrous,” said freshman Estee Reiss of the candidates, seeing potential for failure in all.

“I just don’t like any of them,” echoed junior Bobby Cribbin.

Though they lie in a great minority, it would be irresponsible to not acknowledge the small percentage of respondents supporting third-party candidates, as 5% support Gary Johnson while 1.6% support Jill Stein (it should be noted that one Jill Stein supporter merely reasoned that Stein was not Trump, Clinton, or Johnson, and therefore the best candidate).

“I believe that Johnson is able to actually listen to the average Joe’s opinion and understand where they are coming from,” said junior Ethan Marsh of the Libertarian candidate. “Experienced politicians like Johnson and Weld (Johnson’s VP candidate), to most Americans they are more “us” and less “them”.”

brandon3Though a distinction is clear amongst students, the divide is not as harsh as it may seem. Many respondents acknowledged support from Trump as stemming from discomfort with Clinton and vice versa. In fact, three respondents supporting Clinton identified as Republicans and there was even one Trump supporter who identified as a Democrat.

This election season is ever-changing, with new scandals emerging daily and new criticisms coming with them. In 2016, perhaps the most controversial election in this nation’s history, it’s safe to say many hope we simply emerge from the mess without scars.

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