Hillary Clinton appears on the verge of clinching the Democratic presidential nomination. But waiting in line for a rally at UC Davis Wednesday night, young supporters of challenger Bernie Sanders wavered as they considered voting for her in November’s general election.
“I want a woman president really badly,” said Bernadette Fox, 28, sporting a black tank top emblazoned with “Feminist” in hot pink. “It is painful not to believe in her.”
Fox, a senior majoring in international relations and women’s studies, said she could not support Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy and would consider a third-party candidate instead.
So did Antonio Alvarado, 20, a junior at UC Davis who said he registered as a Democrat this year to vote for Sanders, and would likely switch back to no-party preference if he does not win.
Alvarado said Sanders is unifying the country by treating everyone as a person, whereas Clinton’s attacks on Sanders have been “even more divisive than Trump.”
“I don’t know a single person who said they would vote for Hillary if she got the nomination,” he said.
In California and nationwide, young Democrats have expressed an overwhelming preference for Sanders. The sharp division is causing a headache for Clinton supporters, who fret that a big drop-off in youth turnout could doom that coalition that delivered the presidency to Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
“The worst is when people say they won’t vote,” said Bardia Chayoumi, 19, a freshmen in biochemistry at UC Davis. “You’re giving up your voice.”
Chayoumi was drawn to Sanders for being ahead of the curve on issues like civil rights, gay marriage and the Iraq War, but he said Clinton was the “second-best.”
“They don’t want to concede yet, and later they’ll switch,” he said of his fellow Sanders fans.
Dressed as Rosie the Riveter, Megan Nguyen, 23, was at the rally with a sign encouraging attendees to turn their passion into action.
The environmental scientist, who works at a UC Davis water policy center, said she would vote for the Democratic nominee, whether or not it was Sanders: “The issues are more important than the actual people.”