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College students in Northfield helped Democrats win in 2020. But will they vote for Biden in 2024?

College students could impact the outcome of 2024 election in Minnesota
College students could impact the outcome of 2024 election in Minnesota 03:51

NORTHFIELD, Minn. — On a gloomy day down the street from St. Olaf and Carleton colleges, there was a raw, uncertain view of the future.

In 2020, there was an unexpected surge in votes for Democrats from the precincts in and around the two college campuses, up 6% compared to 2016. According to the state, 90% of votes in the area went to Democrats.

But in the overwhelmingly Democrat-leaning community, there was a disconnect between voter support and candidate positions. 

"I am thinking about the student loans that I have to pay back and the high cost of living," said Grace Bassekle.

The students who were working at the Little Joy Cafe downtown said they were concerned about gas prices, the ability to put food on the table, and pay rent. 

"The first thing that comes to my mind is women's health and freedom and choices," said Kelly Dennis. But on that particular issue, Dennis said that nobody stands out.

Only one student brought up the war in Gaza, despite all the protests at college campuses in recent weeks. 

"Thousands of people are dying, especially kids in Gaza. I don't think Joe Biden is doing his job," said Bassekle.

Climate change also loomed as an issue.

"A lot of places will be uninhabitable in a couple of years and a couple of decades. That is constantly on my mind," said Bassekle.

"I don't know how much of a future I will be able to establish myself due to the fact that, will there even be a hospitable future for the people of my generation?" said Marko Stojanovic.

When pushed, there was a grudging pro-Biden consensus.

"When I am looking at the two, it's like I am choosing between what is the less bad option," said Stojanovic.

Overall dissatisfaction seemed to linger. Stojanovic said whichever he chose, he was not going to be fully satisfied with his choice.

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