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With presidential primaries underway, students get involved

By Justin Maskulinski, Assistant News Editor, and Emily Tate, Managing Editor

With the 2016 Iowa caucuses in the books, where Republican Senator Ted Cruz from Texas took home a victory (at press time, the Democratic race was too close to call), a handful of politically active Miami University students are gearing up for a semester filled with campaign events - phone banking voters across the country, going door-to-door in Butler County and holding voter registration drives.

The polarizing presidential primaries will likely dominate headlines for the next few months, and at Miami, voters will look ahead to the Ohio primaries in March.

"Miami is Berning"

On a table in the corner of Kofenya Coffee is an unassuming sign-up sheet displaying the presidential campaign logo for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont.

Under the logo is a short sentence, written in all lowercase letters: "miami is berning, join the revolution today."

The level of official support for Sanders at Miami is more like a spark than a flame, based on the sign-up sheet in Kofenya, at least. As of 3 p.m. Monday, the flyer had just three names on it - two signatures and one name listed as the primary contact.

Quinton Couch, an avid Sanders supporter, placed this flyer in Kofenya and Bagel & Deli.

Couch, a registered Democrat and Diplomacy and Global Politics major, says he attends Sanders events to network with others, in hopes of creating a stronger support base at Miami.

"There is support here," Couch said. "It just lacks organization."

Couch calls himself a grassroots organizer within the campaign. One of his goals it to get students registered to vote.

Sanders has targeted the support of college-aged students in an attempt to take down his only remaining opponent, Hillary Clinton. (Former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley ended his presidential bid last night.)

"If we want to see this revolution come to fruition and have Bernie Sanders be elected president, it absolutely counts on the young be getting out to vote," Couch said.

Another name on the sign-up sheet was John Davis, a junior interactive media studies major.

Davis says the biggest obstacle for Sanders' campaign is not his socialist ideology, but Clinton.

"Hillary Clinton is so formidable a force just because of name recognition," Davis said. "The more people learn about Bernie Sanders, the more they like him."

Miami Students for Hillary

Wearing a Hillary for America T-shirt and campaign button, junior Kirby Chandler explained why she is invested in this election.

Chandler, originally from Texas, said she knows all too well what it's like to be a Democrat in a Republican's world.

"I see a really similar environment at Miami University, and I would really love try to capture that in the upcoming election," she said.

Chandler is co-founder of Miami Students for Hillary and spent the winter term volunteering at Hillary Clinton's official campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.

She has returned for the semester energized about the Clinton campaign. Chandler said Sanders, who was initially perceived as a Democratic underdog, has great ideas and has steered the party in a positive direction, but ultimately doesn't have what it takes to execute his plans.

"I think Hillary Clinton is the candidate who can actually take those policies and get them done," Chandler said. "She already has lists of comprehensive policies and plans to get them through Congress - as we all know [Congress] is incredibly gridlocked right now."

While Chandler and her Miami Students for Hillary co-founder, senior Christian Carter, are campaigning for Clinton's presidential bid, they are also focusing on voter education and registration.

"We try to bring all of the facts to the table so people can look at it and say, 'This is who I agree with based on how I identify,'" Carter said.

And even if those people decide to cast their vote for another candidate or another party, Chandler still encourages their participation in the election.

"If somebody came up to me and was like, 'Hey, I want to vote for Donald Trump,' I wouldn't agree with them, but I would absolutely point them in the right direction for voter registration," Chandler said. "Because for me, it is just about getting Miami University active and actually have them care about the upcoming election."

RedHawks Go Red

Senior Annie Rudy favors Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, but in the crowded Republican presidential race, she said most of her friends don't yet know who they are supporting.

After Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee ended his presidential bid last night, the race should feel slightly less crowded. The candidate pool has now dropped to 11.

"Most people are a little more passive, just because there are so many [Republican] candidates," Rudy said. "If we get more toward the general election, I think there will be much more active campaigning."

Rudy, however, thinks Rubio is the best Republican candidate to go up against Sanders or Clinton. He's not a celebrity billionaire, nor does he come from a family of career politicians, she said.

"He just seems the most down to earth to me and the most electable," she said. "A lot of candidates have similar conservative values, but if you pit them against the democrats, I don't see them being favored."

Rudy said some of her friends agree with the ideas of Senator Ted Cruz, who won Iowa's Republican caucuses last night. Rudy said Cruz is popular for his "very typical conservative stance."

Correction: Due to a reporter's error, a previous version of this article identified Quinton Couch as an Associated Student Government senator. He is not currently an ASG senator.