Children, teens, and tweens discuss the 2016 election—with the same level of understanding as most of the country.
Photo by Sean Locke via Stocksy
On the eve of election day, we polled kids, tweens, and teens about what they make of the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates and the election in general.They have no say and only a loose grasp of how the electoral system works—and, like many Americans, they know that Hillary did something involving emails, but they're not sure what—but their opinions more or less echo a cross-section of voting America.
Some of them expressed concern about Trump's treatment of women and his divisive and racist policy proposals; others admitted they knew very little but had been moved by the GOP candidate's use of memes.
Jamie S., 9th grade, New York City: Undecided
For the last couple of days, we've had a mini unit on the election. We had a station on what Trump and Hillary have said on Twitter, their stances on different topics––like immigration, gun reform, foreign policy, taxes. I don't really like either of them. I don't like Trump because he's too out there, and his ideas are crazy. I like Hillary a lot more than Trump, but I don't love either of the candidates. What really resonated with me was when Trump said his comments were just locker-room talk. I play sports and I never hear anything about that. It's not sending a good message.
Julia S., 7th grade, New York City: Hillary
We took a break from our social studies unit to focus on the election. It's a little nerve-racking, because this is the country that one day I'll help shape with my votes. It's interesting to know that I'm getting closer to that point, so I should know about this stuff more. My school has not talked about Trump's comments towards women at all, but it's kinda disgusting. It's terrible, because he could be the one negotiating our deals and he doesn't know how to handle himself. My generation and the generation above me are all talking about how you should be empowered as a woman, and when he makes those comments it's like reversing everything. Women are not supposed to be objectified, but that's exactly what he's doing.
Donald Trump is racist and he's gonna kick people out. That's mostly what I know.
Declan M., 5th grade, New York City: Hillary
I don't know a lot about either of them. Donald Trump is racist and he's gonna kick people out. That's mostly what I know. If I had to vote for anyone that ran, I'd probably vote for Bernie Sanders, but he's already out. Hillary, stuff has been going on with the emails and stuff. I don't know much about it, but there's FBI things in it, and I think that means it's bad. And Donald Trump, I just wouldn't vote for him, because he's racist and he's not experienced in any politics. But he does do real estate––is that like politics?
I'm not really following the small details, but I heard that Hillary Clinton was winning. Earlier this year I was more into Trump, just because everyone in my class was doing Trump things. That was a couple of months ago, when I was in fourth grade. Now people are just talking about the funny Trump memes and Hillary memes. Trump has more funnier memes, and more memes, way more memes.
Quinn M., 3rd grade, New York City: Trump
I think Trump would have better fighting, honestly. He knows military. I think Trump would be better because I think he would have more, well, he'd have more money to buy more stuff because he's rich. Hillary doesn't really know that much, I don't think. I just think Trump would be better because Hillary lies. Trump is kind of racist, but race isn't everything. I know it's a big thing, but there's other big things about lies, emails, FBI.
Alessia L., 6th grade, New York City: Hillary
At school, we're having a mock voting session, and all the kids can vote for who they want to win. I think I'll vote for Hillary. I think Hillary respects women more. Trump says some really bad things about women. Also, she will be the first woman to be president if she wins, which will be pretty cool.
I've watched a few of the debates... the way that Trump speaks is kinda rude. I haven't actually watched the video that they released, by I've heard that he says really rude stuff about women, and I don't like that. When he speaks, he doesn't speak appropriately.
I've heard that [Trump] says really rude stuff about women, and I don't like that. When he speaks, he doesn't speak appropriately.
Sabrina L., 7th grade, New York City: Undecided
In each of our homerooms, we're having a mock elections where we can place a vote. If you really don't want to vote, it's fine. I don't know yet if I will. I don't think I know enough to pick sides. I don't really have enough information.
I've heard from my friends that Hillary is a liar, and Trump wants to build a wall, or whatever. I think they both have good overall ideas, but they didn't express them that well during the debates. It's more of a level of entertainment during the debates, rather than talking about the actual questions. I think they're more concerned about winning than actually, like, solving problems that we have in our country. I just couldn't pick a side.
Sylvia B., 3rd Grade, New York City: Hillary
I don't know much about Trump, but I've heard some things, like he yells and says bad things, terrible things that I don't think should be said. I would definitely rather have Obama for a couple more years, but I think Hillary has been in the, uh, what's it called? The government, right? She's been the First Lady. It just kinda makes me think she's more suitable to be the president. She's had a lot more experience and knows a lot about the election and being president.
My mom and dad think Trump shouldn't be president, because he says real terrible things and he's so self-concerned. We went to Pennsylvania for Hillary. It was kinda scary at first; we were really worried about meeting a Trump supporter, and when we finally did meet a Trump supporter, me and my friend were super nervous. She kept saying, "I'll be there. I'll be there to vote for Trump in the election." It just made me so scared. It was like the devil telling me that she'd be there to ruin our lives! I personally don't like to talk to Trump fans.
I'm so scared! Oh, gosh! I don't wanna know till the day is over. I'll be crying my head off if Trump wins. If Hillary wins there's gonna be ballons, there's gonna be confetti, there's gonna be a bunch of cakes. We shall all have a big party. All of the New York people will come together and celebrate. If Trump wins, we'll all cry our heads off and shoot ourselves. The city skies will all turn grey and the buildings will turn black and everyone will be crying.
If Trump wins, we'll all cry our heads off and shoot ourselves. The city skies will all turn grey and the buildings will turn black and everyone will be crying.
Mira M., 10th grade, Princeton, NJ: Hillary
I'm definitely supporting Hillary Clinton for so many reasons. As a young woman, I'm tired of turning on the television or opening my computer and reading headlines about Trump's horrible comments and generalizations of women. I'm tired of him making extremely racist claims and getting away with it. Although I can't vote, it's my generation that will have to repair the international relations that Trump will ruin if he gets the presidency. I know that Hillary has made mistakes during her time as a politician, but I agree with her on so many of her opinions and goals, which is why I would definitely vote for her if I could.
Daniela G., 8th grade, Los Angeles, CA: Hillary
I think Donald Trump is...he's different. I don't think he's a really good speaker. His ideas and stuff need to be put through more, because not enough people are informed, they just know all the bad stuff he said. I don't understand how anyone could still support him. I don't understand how they're not scared. I just want to talk to his family. I don't understand... Like, he has daughters. It's unpresidential.
The word that people use a lot about Hillary is "corrupt," but no one really says why. I don't really know why, but everyone keeps saying that. I think it would be really cool to have the first woman president. I don't know exactly her position on each topic, but I think it would be really cool to have a woman president. I'd vote probably for Hillary. But I was debating, because I don't like either of them, but everyone was saying a vote for third-party candidate or not at all is like a vote for Trump, and I don't want that either.