In the weeks leading up to the election, Professor George Thomas and students in his Government 20 course (Andrew Wang ’20, Christina Ge ’20, Joseph Noss ’20, Seth Taylor-Brill ’20, Victoria Flores Najas ’20) sent out a campus-wide survey to record political attitudes. Carrying on the tradition of now-retired Professor Ward Elliot of sending out the survey in every election year, the students revamped the old survey and sent it to 300 randomly selected American CMC students.
The political attitudes survey was broken down into three parts: basic demographic questions, political outlooks, and stances on controversial issues. The Gov 20 students received 216 responses out of the 300 student sample (72% of the sample size), and presented those results at the Athenaeum’s Election Night program on November 8th. Below are some highlights from each section.
Seventy-four percent of responders were White, 20% Hispanic/Latino, 8% Black/African-American, and 17% Asian. The statistics are obviously not reflective of actual demographic breakdowns at CMC, but one possible reason for why the White population is so high could be because the question asked students to select the option(s) most representative of them, and this could have resulted in identifying as White and another option.
Another highlight is the major breakdown, with 58% respondents majoring in social sciences. Within social sciences, 67% are Economics majors, while 33% are Government majors.
In political outlook:
Fifty-three percent are Democrats, and 69% of respondents supported Hillary Clinton. However, in primaries, 37% voted for Sanders, 32% Clinton, and 3% Trump.
Below is a table breakdown about people’s actual political outlooks on campus, versus people’s predicted political outlooks. Interestingly, the figures are fairly accurate.
This section include questions about stances on controversial issues including abortion, immigration, refugee intake, environmental regulation, foreign policy, gun control, and marijuana legalization. In general, the top three issues for CMC students are: The Economy (66%), Foreign Policy (47%), and the Environment (44%).
In this section, the students also presented interesting trends in the filtered results. One included generational versus party beliefs. With 22% conservatives versus 53% liberals on campus, one would expect stances on issues to align with those party views. However, 70% of voters supported pro-choice in abortion, and 88% supported same-sex marriage. This suggests that perhaps this generation’s young are emphatically socially liberal, rather than strictly adhering to party beliefs.
Another highlight in the filtered responses was the Economics and Government split. When asked to rank the top issues, Econ majors chose The Economy, while Gov majors chose Foreign Policy. Overall, Econ majors proved to be slightly more conservative on issues of abortion, refugee intake, and presidential preference.
In terms of majors and party preferences, STEM majors are more likely to be Democrats than Social Science majors.
Lastly, for presidential preference by party, most Democrats voted for Clinton, while Republicans voted for an even mix of candidates without necessarily supporting Trump, the Republican party nominee. It’s important to note however, that since the sample size of Trump supporters was relatively small, the trends observed may not accurately reflect Trump supporters’ views.
In summary, these political attitudes and observed trends are only a general reflection of the 216 students’ views at CMC. The full report can be found here, and the Ath presentation can be found here, for more highlights and visuals.