Clinton, Trump Rallies Look To Attract Jacksonville First-Time Voters

Nov 3, 2016

President Barack Obama campaigned on behalf of Hillary Clinton at the University of North Florida, Thursday.
Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

With about 5 million ballots already cast in Florida, the state is on track to beat the all-time record for turnout in a presidential election.

As the Tampa Bay Times reports, the surge is partly because of first-time voters and what are considered unlikely voters, or those who didn’t vote in the last two elections.


President Barack Obama and Republican Donald Trump both tried to sway those voters Thursday in Jacksonville.

A line stretched around the University of North Florida campus. In that line to see Obama speak were many first-time voters, like Lone Star High School senior and Hillary Clinton supporter Jaquon Baker, who took the day off for the rally.

“I’m voting because I feel like this election depicts my life,” he said. “I feel like with this current right here — it sets the tone for this next generation that’s coming up.”

College freshman Hayden Cintron, also a Hillary supporter, said her peers are cynical.

“Most people my age are completely turned off by the election,” she said. “They just don’t want to vote at all because they don’t like Hillary or they don’t like Trump, and they just don’t think it’s worth it, and they just say their vote doesn't matter anyway, but it does.”

A line of people waiting to see Barack Obama Thursday stretches around the University of North Florida campus.
Credit Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

Inside the rally, Obama agreed with her.

“I’m telling you right now, it is great if you marched for criminal justice reform,” he said, “but you’ve got to vote for a president and a congress and state attorneys and prosecutors who actually care about disrupting the pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails.”

Across town, Trump also focused on first-time voters at his rally, asking them to raise their hands.

Twenty-year-old Fred Ghannam said he’s leaning toward Trump, but he went to see Obama Thursday, who he said was more qualified than Clinton.

“We’re stuck with these two people that … one is all against females and doesn’t respect them and the other one is just like a criminal,” he said.

Despite low approval ratings for both candidates, nearly 40 percent of the Florida electorate already voted, with four more days until Election Day.

Listen to this story on Redux:

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.