Political issues push students to the polls

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Hot political issues, such as abortion and gun control, have pushed USC students to the polls to vote in the Nov. 8 midterm elections. (Daily Trojan file photo)

Editor’s note: At the time of publication, some key House and Senate election results were too close to announce.

As midterm election results roll in, USC students raised a number of issues of concern to them during their Nov. 8 polls, with abortion and public safety having the most influence on their votes.

Both of these issues are of considerable importance to college students across the country. A 2022 survey of 1,077 students from across the country by NBC News and Generation Lab found that 30% of rising sophomores said they would transfer schools if they lost access to abortion . The National Center for Education Statistics found that 43% of reported campus crimes in 2019 were sexual assault cases, establishing the prevention and support of sex crimes as a key issue affecting students.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 seats in the Senate were at stake in the midterm elections. Due to the narrow majority the Democratic Party had in both branches – 9 seats in the House of Representatives and Vice President Harris’ decisive vote in the Senate – either party could have easily taken control. of both branches.

With majorities in both assemblies determined by election, USC student votes were influenced by a few key issues. Shaleen Sunesara, a second-year health promotion and disease prevention student, says she voted on the basis of “abortion rights as well as gun control, and I think rights only.” of man”.

According to Rutgers, the landmark Supreme Court decision in the recent Dobbs v. Jackson left the abortion issue to individual states, mobilizing drastic increases in women’s voter registration in pivotal states like Pennsylvania.

Leah Nwizugbo, a freshman political science student, agreed that abortion was an important topic in her electoral experience.

“The fact that abortion was on the ticket is actually one of the things that really pushed me to go to the polls and vote,” Nwizugbo said. “It’s really important that states produce effective legislation that can fight against abortion.”

While many Democrats have attempted to mandate abortion into federal law, the party has always been stymied by legislative delays such as the use of the filibuster. If Democrats are unable to retain control of the House and secure at least 10 Senate seats, it is likely that abortion access will continue to be denied in many states or result in further restrictions in states. Swing states.

USC students have been moved by these close election questions, like Charlotte Anderson, a sophomore majoring in public relations. Her vote to re-elect Colorado Governor Jared Polis was primarily influenced by abortion rights.

“He’s definitely in favor of abortion rights,” Anderson said. “And that was a huge thing for me, so I definitely want to make sure he stays in the job.

While the issue of codifying abortion rights is at the center of Democratic campaigns, crime is not. While the murder rate is lower than it was in the 1990s, the FBI reported a 30% increase in the national homicide rate from 2019 to 2020, which was the largest increase in a single year. never before recorded among American GOP candidates, like Lee Zeldin, who is running for governor of New York, have cracked down on crime in their campaigns, cementing it as a key issue for their elections.

However, student public safety has become intertwined with gun control. Bryan Fernandez, a first-year political science student, was particularly alert to the issue after a school in his hometown was threatened with shooting.

“I think that definitely influences young voters, especially knowing that we have siblings or friends back home, in high schools where they have to fear for their own lives on a daily basis,” Fernandez said.

Sunesara agrees with that sentiment, saying gun control is an ongoing issue nationwide.

“I think by voting for a certain party, maybe you can counter the effects of heavy gun use and maybe regulate the use of guns,” she said.

USC students and students across the country will keep these issues in mind as the results of yesterday’s races continue to be confirmed.

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