Sanders and celebrity friends court young Iowa voters

Bernie Sanders speaking at ISU
Bernie Sanders make a final appeal to students at Iowa State University on Sunday night (Caroline Kenny/MEDILL)

By Caroline Kenny

AMES, Iowa–At a canvass kickoff event just 24 hours before the caucus doors open on Monday night, Bernie Sanders made a final appeal to young voters at Iowa State University.

Sanders was joined on stage by actor Josh Hutcherson of The Hunger Games series, as well as the band members from Foster the People. Each emphasized the very close race between Sanders and Clinton and the need for young voters to make a difference for the Sanders campaign to pull ahead.

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“I believe that if we have a large voter turnout, if thousands of people — many of whom who have given up on the political process, many young people who have never participated in the political process — if they come out, we’re going to win,” Sanders said.

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According to a Quinnipiac poll released Monday morning, Sanders has a three point lead over Clinton, 49-46. However, the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll from Saturday showed Clinton with a three point lead, 45-42. In both polls, the results fell within the margin of error.

Sanders has been traveling the state over the past few days encouraging young people to caucus for him. Bringing in celebrities and speaking on college campuses is central to his plan. At a rally in Iowa City on Saturday night, Sanders was joined on stage by the band Vampire Weekend as a crowd of 3,800 cheered.

Young voters have been a target for many candidates. According to Democratic strategist Pete Giangreco, a key part of winning the Iowa Caucuses is to bring in the most new voters. Since college students are most likely voting for the first time, their votes are highly coveted.

Sanders supporters have traveled long distances to help get out the caucus in Iowa. Many members of the audience in Ames on Sunday traveled more than 1,000 miles from Charlotte, North Carolina, to lend their phone banking and canvassing skills.

“Iowa is the first caucus in the nation and we decided that we needed to come out here to get out the caucus, get out the vote and make sure that people come out so we can go build that momentum and hopefully carry us into Bernie winning the nomination,” said Jose Mujica, a Sanders volunteer from Charlotte.

The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, when Democratic voters will take to their local caucus location and stand with their candidate of choice.

Photo at top: Bernie Sanders makes a final appeal to students at Iowa State University on Sunday night. (Caroline Kenny/MEDILL)