by Joe Nathan – guest columnist
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon and educators in 280 Minnesota high schools did a wise thing this fall: They asked students, grades nine through 12, who they supported for president of the United States.
As of Nov. 1, when initial results were released, about 77,000 students from Minnesota rural, suburban and urban, public and private schools had voted. Some of the results were not what I would have expected. Results are available for each individual high school here: http://bit.ly/2fe0cI9.
As you consider Minnesota and national results on Election Day, you might want to compare how students voted, especially in your local community.
The first surprise, at least for me, was that almost a third of the high school students who voted preferred someone other than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump: 35 percent of students voted for Trump and 33 percent voted for Clinton, so 32 percent had another preference. Many polls have indicated that 90 percent or more of adults planned to vote for one of the two major party candidates.
However, 9 percent of the high school students wrote someone else in. For high school students, the two leading “third-party” candidates were Dan Vacek of the Legal Marijuana Now Party with 4,570 votes, or 5.93 percent, and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party with 4,371 votes, or 5.68 percent.
A second surprise was that students in several suburbs and exclusive private schools preferred Clinton. That was true, for example, in Wayzata, where students preferred Clinton over Trump by a margin of 397 to 286, in St. Louis Park, with 699 votes for Clinton vs. 123 for Trump, and in Hopkins, 467 for Clinton, 149 for Trump. It also was true at the private St. Paul Academy, where Clinton received 225 votes and Trump only 44, and Blake, which voted for Clinton 192-45. These results challenge “conventional wisdom” about wealthy and suburban voters preferring Republicans.
A third thing that I did not anticipate was the near universal support for Trump in greater Minnesota: Trump won the vote in well over 200 rural high schools, while Clinton won in fewer than 10.
Here are local examples of high school results:
Anoka, Blaine, Coon Rapids
Andover High School Clinton 170 Trump 219
Anoka High School Clinton 256 Trump 366
Anoka Hennepin Technical School Clinton 10 Trump 8
Blaine High School Clinton 59 Trump 130
Coon Rapids High School Clinton 202 Trump 151
Northwest Passage (charter) High School (in Coon Rapids)
Clinton 15 Trump 15
Bloomington Jefferson Clinton 317 Trump 176
Rogers High School Clinton 212 Trump 527
Zimmerman High School Clinton 64 Trump 231
Hopkins High School Clinton 467 Trump 149
Lionsgate Academy Clinton 25 Trump 27
Orono Clinton 251 Trump 288
Academy of Holy Angels Clinton 107 Trump 106
Armstrong Clinton 344 Trump 132
Cooper Clinton 549 Trump 125
St. Louis Park Clinton 699 Trump 123
Wayzata Clinton 397 Trump 286
Full disclosure: I support Secretary Clinton. But regardless of whom you support, I think that Secretary of State Simon and educators in these communities who encouraged students deserve our thanks. They have encouraged high school students to think about the election and gave them a voice that is now being shared throughout the state. These adults are saying to students: “We want to know what you think.” That’s a great message to young people.
Joe Nathan, formerly a Minnesota public school teacher, administrator and PTA president, is director of the Center for School Change. Reactions are welcome at email@example.com.