On Monday, Feb. 1, the Iowa caucuses took place, the first of the primary elections. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders started and ended the day neck and neck. Clinton won by a margin of less than one percent, and 26 Iowa delegates to Sanders’ 21.
Although this is seen as a loss for Sanders, his speech following the vote was hopeful, and energetic, with Clinton seemingly less excited. Relative to where he started, and relative to what the polls showed before the caucuses, Sanders did better than expected.
When Sanders announced his presidency in May of last year, Clinton was already campaigning, and held the majority vote in the Democratic polls. It wasn’t until around July, that Sanders gained more than 10 percent in the polls. This momentum has carried on, resulting in the close race that Clinton feared after her failure in the 2008 elections.
Much of Sanders’ support comes from young voters, a demographic that helped President Obama secure the presidency in 2008. The question on why the oldest candidate is so popular with young people is still up in the air, but one possibility is due to his plans for student loan debt, a popular issue with the young demographic.
In America, the average student loan debt is around $30,000 dollars. Both candidates have plans to rectify this growing issue, and at the same time win the loyalty of the young voters who are drowning in debt. New Hampshire has student loan debt currently at an average of $33,000 dollars, one of the highest in the country. Currently, polls put Sanders above Clinton in this state, reflecting how his policies on debt have made an impression on voters.
Sanders’ plan would make all public colleges and universities free of tuition. Countries like Germany have ruled to cut all fees for undergraduates at their universities, to encourage their citizens to seek a higher education.
The Clinton plan doesn’t include such a dramatic change, although she would make the tuition at community colleges free. She also would have more policies to cut down on the money students borrow, and holding colleges responsible for controlling costs.
The lure of Sanders’ plan, is that a college education would be free. Anyone, from any socio-economic class, could attend a four-year college and not worry about debt. Sanders intends to do this by imposing a tax on Wall Street; he claims that it will cover the full $75 billion dollar cost this plan needs to succeed.
With the New Hampshire primaries next Tuesday, the country is at a standstill. The narrow victory Clinton secured in Iowa isn’t enough to say who will win the Democratic primaries. All eyes are on New Hampshire in the coming week.