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Natalie's US election experience could help UK engage young voters

A Politics student from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) who witnessed the US election first-hand will be passing on her thoughts and findings to the UK government.

Natalie Williams, studying History and Politics, was in Miami on the night Donald Trump was named President Elect of the United States, having played an active part on the Democrat campaign trail.

natalie

The 21-year-old was one of just 45 young people from the UK to be chosen for the 45forthe45th project, which encouraged young people between 18 and 25 to apply for an opportunity to work on a primary or Presidential campaign of their choice – either Democrat or Republican. 

She travelled to Ohio in March to help campaign on behalf of Bernie Sanders and returned to the States in November for some last-minute canvassing for the Democrats in the key battleground of Florida before election night.

She said she watched the count come in at the University of Miami with growing disbelief.

She said: “There was a real feeling of sadness as it became clear Trump was actually going to win. Especially there in Florida, it just seemed unbelievable, there was just this shock.”

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Trump’s stunning win came after a long and controversial campaign to persuade voters, which Natalie had been right at the heart of, both in Florida and Ohio.

She said: “We were going door to door and we had plenty of doors slammed in our face from Trump supporters. They had clearly made up their mind and did not want to debate the issue.

“In Miami I was surprised to see so many Hispanic Trump supporters. You would have thought he might have alienated them with some of his comments but if they’d come from Cuba where there was a left wing government they might be looking for something right wing, I suppose.”

The experience, Natalie said, was priceless in itself but she will be able to take it further – by telling the UK Government her thoughts.

She said: “The 45forthe45th project is holding a conference and we’ll be sharing our views before passing them on to government.

“In particular we’ll be looking at how the candidates in the US engaged young people. There was definitely a bigger emphasis on addressing local communities and really talking to people face-to-face than we’d seen in this country, especially over the referendum.”

Posted on Tuesday 24th January 2017

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