CLEVELAND AND COLOMBUS —
Snap. Snap. The lanyard hooks grab onto the thick nylon straps that wrap around two trees. Seth Burt is ready to settle into his hammock to study. The Ohio State University (OSU) senior is a registered independent. He voted for the Republican presidential candidate four years ago and supported Republican Donald Trump early into this year's race.
But he says his strong Christian background doesn't mesh with either candidate. "I don't like Trump's women issues or his foreign policy, and I don't think (Hillary) Clinton's policies are good either."
So this year, he will sit out the election and hope Washington gets the message that it needs "to become more current and start trying to reach us."
OSU Freshman Lyka Delafuente, who was born and raised in the Phillipines, says she was excited that she finally reached the age to vote, but "now, I don't really want to vote for either one," she says. Delafuente plans to vote anyway and finds herself convincing her friends to vote, even if they don't like the choices.
Students at Ohio State University say, as millennials, they are the biggest generation and politicians need to reach them. (C. Presutti/VOA)
Millennials vote "against"
It's that lack of enthusiasm that has resulted in a USA Today poll that shows millennials who are voting aren't necessarily supporting a candidate, as much as voting against the other candidate. The poll shows that 36% of millennials are supporting former secretary of state Clinton to keep businessman Trump out of the White House. And that 36% of millennials are supporting Trump to keep Clinton out of the White House. But overall, millennials overwhelmingly support Democrat Hillary Clinton — 68% to 20%.
Herb Asher is an Ohio State University professor who has written books called "Presidential Elections and American Politics" and "Comparative Voting Behavior." He says that because a higher number of millennials support Clinton, she stands to lose more.
"If they don't vote," he predicts, "she gets hurt by that more than Trump does."
OSU professor Herb Asher is author of "Presidential Elections and American Politics." He says Democrat Hillary Clinton will be impacted the most if millennial's do not vote. (C. Presutti/VOA)
Millennials could swing Ohio... if they tried
Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. In the last presidential election, Barack Obama won 62% of the millennial vote in Ohio. A Tufts University survey shows he would not have won the battleground state, had his competitor split the youth vote with him.
College junior Andrew Langen says no matter who is elected, he expects millennials to spark a change. He predicts "more interest in third parties and the decline of the two party system."
With three weeks left until voting day, the number of undecided voters — young and old — is three times higher than at this point in the last election. Polls show it as high as 15 percent. In contrast, only 5 percent of the electorate was undecided at this stage in 2012.
Cleveland.com's data expert Richard Exner says the candidates need to reach the undecideds.
"The no vote and the undecided are probably going to decide the election," Exner says.
Seth Burt, an economics major at Ohio State University, relaxes in his hammock for a midday study session. Burt voted Republican in the 2012 presidential election. This year he won't vote. (C. Presutti/VOA)
Traditional Republicans now undecided
Not just college students, but many older voters are also undecided.
Visiting the "Rock, Power and Politics" exhibit at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Steven Salinger is a registered Republican who will vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson. He says the electorate is tired of lifetime politicials who build generations of family politicians. He says Donald Trump voters don't necessarily support the Republican candidate "It's an anti vote, against the establishment."
Deb Glisson has voted Republican her whole life, but is now undecided. Her son is stationed on a U.S. navy submarine. Glisson says she just doesn't feel good about the campaign.
"There's just so much bashing to get to be president," she says. "I don't feel like they are leaders for me."
Deb Glisson is a registered republican, but undecided in this election. She’s not comfortable voting for either presidential candidate. (M. Burke/VOA)