US Presidential Elections 2020: Young voters wary of climate, Covid-19 | The Daily Star
01:39 PM, October 31, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:50 PM, October 31, 2020

US Presidential Elections 2020: Young voters wary of climate, Covid-19

Young voters in Florida, a battleground state for the US Presidential elections, think that America faces an image crisis during the Trump administration for its stance on climate change and handling of coronavirus pandemic.

Although some say that Donald Trump has done pretty well on the economic front as a continuation of the previous Obama administration's policy, he does not care much about science-based policies that speak of sustainability.

"Trump is not doing anything good as far as climate change is concerned," said Samantha Schwarz, a first-year student of Biology at the University of South Florida, Tampa on Thursday.

She is one of 12 students -- most of whom are first time voters -- to share their views in an interaction with a group of journalists virtually participating at the "2020 US Presidential Election Reporting Seminar" organised by the Hawaii-based East-West Centre.

Samantha said she is worried over the frequent climatic events like the hurricanes in Florida and the wildfires in California. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, a series of wildfires as of October 27 this year have burned nearly 4.4 million of California's 100 million acres of land, making 2020 the largest wildfire season recorded in the state's modern history.

Trump withdrew from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation in 2017, frustrating world leaders and environmentalists racing to save the planet from global warming.

Young voters wary of climate change and America's future said they have mostly voted early for Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate in the presidential election, considering that his policies towards environment, coronavirus pandemic, immigration and even foreign relations would be much better than that of Trump.

This notion from Florida voters is significant given the fact that the state has been a determining factor in the victory of the presidents in previous years. As one of the critical swing states, Florida was responsible for the victory of Republican George W Bush (Jr) over his Democratic rival Al-Gore in 1992. Florida also ensured President Trump's success in 2016.

This year, Biden is ahead of Trump in the opinion polls. In Florida, most polls found 50-52 percent support for Biden and highest 47 percent support for Republican candidate Trump.

Liz Dorn, a political scientist and programme coordinator at the East-West Centre, said Florida has 29 of the total 538 electoral votes of the 50 US states. A candidate will need a minimum of 270 votes to become the president in the elections to be held on November 3.

Analysts say immigrants and minority groups in the upcoming US elections will play an important role. Many African Americans who vote for the Democrats did not cast ballots in 2016 elections, making a difference that led to the victory of Trump. This year seems different with large voter turnouts, including the mail-in votes.

"If Trump remains president, he wouldn't do better," said Samantha.

She is also worried over the Trump administration's foreign policy. She said she recently visited London and found people there looking down on America because of Trump -- something that hurt her. She thinks Biden can help improve foreign relations.

Alexis King, also a first time voter who cast ballot for Biden a week back, said she comes from a Hispanic immigrant family and shares the pains of the immigrants. The Trump administration has had an anti-immigrant stance, which left many of the migrant families and their children in peril.

In contrast, Biden seems immigrant-friendly. "I hope to see better," she said.

Samantha Cavallaro, a student of Psychology at the University of South Florida, says she has a number of friends and relatives in Australia. When she is informed about the Covid-19 cases in Australia, she feels down given huge number of cases and deaths in America.

Australia has less than 30,000 Covid-19 cases, while the figure is more than nine million in the USA. Some 230,000 people died in the world's most powerful country. Trump, who himself suffered from Covid-19, has all along been indifferent on the use of face masks.

"Our administration is not handling the pandemic with science in the name of economy," Cavallaro said.

Asked what if Trump again comes to power, Abdullah, another student of the university, said he will continue to support and work for the Democrats that is liberal and doesn't look at things only from economic or nationalistic points of view.

"The Democrats have higher degree of respect for environment, immigrants and of course, the American citizens."

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