International Students Chime in on U.S.Elections

By, Molly McElwee

The final stretch is here, in what has felt like the longest, and certainly the scrappiest election in US history. The candidates have left a trail of polarization across America, dividing voters and testing partisan loyalty. While Americans hit the voting booths, crossing their fingers for the result they've been hoping for, and others sit out this election, we spoke to international millennials living in the US to get their first-hand experience of the race to the White House.

Laura Suarez del Toro Garcia, originally from Spain, summarized the cycle pretty aptly, 'Well it's a really complicated election, I think everybody knows that.'

'When I was in Europe,' she went on, 'I was thinking that Trump supporters were a specific kind of people. But when you get here you get to understand more how Trump got into the minds of a much wider population than expected.'

She also thought the bipartisan structure of the debates was detrimental to generating meaningful conversations on policy.

'It was just you did this, and you're worse because of this' during the three presidential debates, and she compared the squabbling to what she believes politics in her country has now moved on from.

Tara Coumbe, from Gibraltar, outlined a similar dissatisfaction with the hyped up debates, saying 'I think it's been quite petty and I haven't learnt anything from any of the debates so far.'

Many of those interviewed also recognised the huge role the media has been playing in this election, perhaps more so than ever before with the increased engagement through social media.

Tara continued to denounce the at times seemingly propagandist messages being relayed by different television stations she described as overtly 'biased' in their coverage. Enrique Sánchez, from Spain, also weighed in on the media's role in the election; 'The mainstream media always helps one candidate... here they are obviously defending the establishment.'

'I like the fact that Trump has been getting so much negative reports and negative attacks from the media,' he continued, 'But he's still standing, so that really says a lot about how Americans are thinking about the media, and how they are trusting less and less of what is being said in the newspapers.'

This observation holds some weight, as only 32% of people have at least 'a fair amount of trust' in the mass media, a historic all-time low, with this figure dropping to just 14% for Republicans. This distrust extends to the candidates as well as the media, as polls have shown that that Trump and Clinton poll as the most unfavourable candidates in election history.

'I feel like all Americans kind of don't like either candidate,' Anisa Atalova, from Kyrgyzstan said.

'I wonder how it got to the point where there are only two candidates which people don't really like.'

Thomas Jenny noted similar thoughts, saying neither candidates appealed to the majority of Americans he's met in DC. Most said they 'would either not vote, or vote for a third party candidate' as a result.

When it came to how they thought the election would affect them personally, Mexican, Alejandro Gómez, felt his country had a special stake in this election.

'If Trump wins, like I'm Mexican and with all the policies he wants to do against the Mexicans, and with the NAFTA it's going to affect us.'

Anisa similarly felt that a potential Trump presidency would have a big effect on her own home country but in a contrasting way; 'I'm from Kyrgyzstan. Now my country is very affected by Russian politics.'

'I think if Trump gets elected it might be better for my country because Trump would, supposedly, have better relationships with Russia, which would affect our relationships too.'

The US election takes place this Tuesday 8 November, and the polls currently show Clinton edging the victory.