Students discuss Bernie Sanders during Rutgers visit
Paying little attention to the national delegate count, Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) supporters around campus remain firmly loyal to his candidacy and envisioned “political revolution.”
Many of the thousands of Rutgers students who gathered at Sanders’s rally on Sunday pledged to continue their support even as the odds of his nomination as the Democratic candidate for president begin to dim.
“(Sanders) is short on delegates but … if you fight the fight, you have a good chance of winning,” said Sebastian Romero, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student. “There is still California, there is still New Jersey.”
Even with his triumph in Indiana on May 3, Sanders still trails Hillary Clinton by 290 pledged delegates. When “super delegates” – whom have overwhelmingly preferred Clinton so far in the race – are added to the equation, the former Secretary of State's lead increases to 774 delegates, according to the Associated Press.
Some students believe the delegate math and election coverage have been manipulated by major media corporations.
“How do you watch CNN or MSNBC and not be like, ‘Well I’m watching this and it’s all pro-Hillary (Clinton),” said Caitlin Mattera, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. “(Those media outlets) are of course going to promote that (Sanders) is slowing down, that his supporters aren’t here.”
Mattera said Clinton’s ties to corporations like Time Warner Cable, which owns CNN, is one of the reasons she joined Sanders’s movement. Money and media coverage are very influential during election cycles, she said.
“The thing that scares people is when they think that a candidate is losing and that they’ve lost hope, (then) they won’t get out and vote,” she said. “Especially in New Jersey – we have such a late primary. If people get it in their head that the fight is over, the fight will be over.”
The Democratic and Republican Garden State primaries are scheduled for June 7.
Clinton leads Sanders among New Jersey Democrats but her favorability in the state recently hit a record low with 50 percent of registered voters having unfavorable opinions of the former Secretary of State, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll.
The mainstream media also reinforces the misconception that Sanders’s supporters are only “college kids who are trying to get things for free,” said Dakota Schrantz, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
“If you see the crowds that come out, it’s diverse, it’s all ages, it’s not just college kids,” Schrantz said. “These are people that are for the most part in the middle class that have been struggling with the issues that he brings to the table.”
The Vermont senator is the only presidential candidate who has stayed true to his convictions for the entirety of his political career and the only one who is genuinely a “good human being,” Schrantz said.
“He’s been standing through adversity for gay rights, equal rights, racial equality and women’s equality from the very beginning and not when it was a trend,” she said. “That’s only been him.”
Romero said that if Sanders’ bid comes up short, voters will most likely vote for Clinton – even if only “begrudgingly” – in a general election against presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump.
Putting the contentious election year aside, Romero believes that Sanders’s visit along with President Barack Obama’s commencement speech on May 15 present great opportunities for Rutgers students.
“It's not every day that you get a presidential candidate and the sitting president at your university in one year,” he said.
Camilo Montoya-Galvez is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in Spanish and journalism and media studies. He is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @camiloooom.