With the presidential election just around the corner, the Cornell Review took to Ho Plaza to gauge the opinions of our fellow students about which candidate has earned their votes on November 6th. As many of you may know, Cornell University has the deserved reputation of being an exceedingly liberal campus, so it came as no surprise to see that Barack Obama received the majority of support (60%) in our confidential survey.
What is surprising is that Obama enjoyed much higher support from college students in 2008, and that support appears to be sliding. Unfortunately for Mitt Romney, it does not appear that he is the beneficiary to these voters that Obama may be losing. Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and myriad of other candidates seem to be enjoying a lift.
The big, ugly numbers that no one wanted to see was the great amount of native-born students that have not taken an active role in their representation. The survey showed that 20% of students are not registered and another 12% are not voting. The survey was limited to Cornell undergraduates that are United State citizens.
The Review acknowledges two potential biases. One is an overrepresentation of Arts students in relative terms, because they are the most likely to pass through Ho Plaza. Next is an underrepresentation of apolitical, uninterested, and disinterested students who declined to take the 15 second survey in the midst of their busy schedules. In reality, the percentage of students not voting in the election may be exceptionally higher.
Are you a registered voter in the United States?
If so, where are you registered?
What party do you consider yourself affiliated with?
If registered, which candidate are you most likely to vote for in the Presidential election?
Not Voting: 12%
Which candidate do you believe most Cornell students will vote for?
poll sample n=315, margin of error=4%
According to a study by the Pew Research Center however, this downward trend in registration extends past our diverse campus. The study found that in 2012 only 50% of adults under the age of 30 are registered to vote, compared to 61% in 2008. When considering the overwhelming support Barack Obama enjoyed among young voters in his first election, it stands to reason that these numbers should be especially troubling to his reelection campaign.
One of the more fascinating things about the Cornell poll is the presence of a phenomenon known as pluralistic ignorance. In essence, this theory states that an individual will believe that the opinions of other people are much more affected by an outside influence than their own. A textbook example of this effect was exhibited in our poll. While only 60% of Cornell students polled said that they were more likely to vote for Barack Obama, a staggering 92% believed that other Cornell students would vote for him.
Perhaps the belief that Cornell University is an exceedingly liberal campus is slowly becoming a myth.
While it is a small victory for the conservative student base at Cornell, it is one that we should put great hope in. If this University is actually 32% less liberal than people believe it is, then perhaps new students and young people who are just beginning to discover their political identities will begin to see that there are other options available besides the liberal ideologies that they are inundated with from the moment they first step foot on campus.
Diversity should not be limited to race, creed, or gender, but should include support for diversity of thought and ideology as well. So to all those closet Republicans out there on campus, the numbers do not lie: you are not alone.