Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton shows a staggering lead compared to all other candidates among University students, according to a recent poll conducted by The Cavalier Daily.
While the former Secretary of State garners a majority of support on Grounds, students support Republican nominee Donald Trump and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson in similar numbers. Although both candidates poll close to 10 percent of all respondents, support for Trump drastically wanes when looking at voters from minority populations.
From Oct. 21-26, The Cavalier Daily polled the student body about a variety of political and University issues. The email survey, which was sent to randomly selected undergraduates, received 1,412 responses, which were then weighted based on gender and year with the help of the Center for Survey Research in order to reflect the demographics of the undergraduate student body.
In an interview, politics lecturer Carah Ong-Waley cautioned the poll may be affected by a selection bias, because the individuals who took the survey may be the ones more likely to vote. Of those surveyed, close to 93 percent said they were registered to vote, either in Virginia or in their home state.
“The reason why that’s interesting is simply because there’s so many questions about whether or not voters are going to turn out,” Ong-Waley said.
Results and trends
When asked for whom they would vote in the presidential election if it were held the day they took the survey, the majority of those surveyed supported Clinton. Of registered voters who said they planned to vote, 67 percent said they would vote for Clinton, while 9 percent said they would vote for Trump. Nearly 10 percent said they supported Johnson, and a little less than 1.5 percent said they supported Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
An additional 9 percent of these respondents remain undecided, while 3 percent will vote for another candidate.
Graphic by Kriti Sehgal
University Democrats President Sam Tobin, a fourth-year College student, said the results did not surprise him.
“When one candidate lays out a vision for young people and a vision for a more inclusive America, that we work together to solve our problems, and one of them for bigotry and quite frankly proposes no ideas, I think young people notice,” Tobin said.
Sabrina Kim, a second-year College student and University Students for Trump ambassador, said she believes the results can be attributed to a general trend of liberalism on college campuses.
“[Universities] are not necessarily microcosms of the country as a whole,” Kim said in an email statement.
According to the data, more of the student body supports Johnson than Trump. Youth for Gary Johnson President Cameron Springer, a third-year Engineering student, said he has been engaged in tabling to address student concerns about Johnson.
“I think if you look at college students going back to the 2012 and 2008 elections, Obama got 80, 85 percent at times, in exit polls,” Springer said, “so seeing Johnson that high and seeing him make an impact on the election I think is definitely encouraging.”
College Republicans Vice Chair for Campaigns Adam Kimelman, a second-year College student, said the Republican Party generally needs to do a better job with engaging millennial voters, and this weakness could explain the poll results.
While Kimelman said the College Republicans have played an influencing role on Grounds overall, he did not attribute the results to their endorsement of Trump and subsequent revokement of that endorsement.
“Essentially, that was a very symbolic gesture and activity that we went through for this purpose,” Kimelman said. “It didn’t really affect what we did in terms of getting out the word about our congressional candidates.”
The margin between Trump and Clinton support is significantly larger amongst University students than in national polls. In a national poll released by Quinnipiac University on Oct. 19, Clinton had 47 percent of support from likely voters, while 40 percent of likely voters supported Trump. Support for Johnson and Stein stood at 7 and 1 percent, respectively.
However, the margins for Virginia state poll numbers are closer to the University’s than the national margins. In Quinnipiac’s most recent state poll, conducted Oct. 27, Clinton had 50 percent of the vote while Trump had 38.
Ong-Waley said she was not surprised by the data, though she did expect the support for Trump to be higher.
“They’re pretty consistent in other ways with the national polls and towards millennials,” Ong-Waley said. “It could be simply that support for Trump is much lower on campus. It could be reflective of broader attitude among Republicans.”
Student support for Clinton and Trump increases even more when other candidates are taken out of the equation. When asked how they would vote if Clinton and Trump were their only options, nearly 75 percent of likely student voters said they would vote for Clinton, while 13 percent said they would vote for Trump. Given those two options, 7 percent were undecided.
Regardless of whom students said they are voting for, the majority of respondents chose their candidate due to their dislike of the opposing party’s candidate, rather than admiration for a candidate him or herself. Of students who said they will vote for Clinton over Trump, 60 percent said this is because they oppose Trump as a candidate. For those supporting Trump over Clinton, 62 percent said this was because they opposed Clinton as a candidate.
An overwhelming majority of respondents — nearly 70 percent — said they found Clinton to be the more trustworthy and qualified candidate, regardless of which candidate they support. Almost 95 percent found her to be the more qualified candidate.
Though Trump’s support among University students is comparatively low, it is even lower among minority students.
In every racial group surveyed, the majority of likely voters supported Clinton in a four-way race — totaling at 63 percent of white students, 84 percent of Hispanic students, 78 percent of Asian students and 86 percent of black students. While 11 percent of white voters support Trump, just 4 percent of Hispanic students and nearly 5 percent of Asian students said they do. No African American respondents said they are supporting Trump.
Black Student Alliance President Bryanna Miller, a third-year College student, said she thinks the results are related to the candidates' policies.
“Between Hillary and Trump, Hillary does have a racial justice platform — Donald Trump, to my knowledge, does not,” Miller said. “That’s not to say that either of them have made us central to their campaign, and that’s a little worrying just generally.”
In regard to the lack of black student support for Trump, Miller said Trump has only associated African Americans with poverty, which is not an accurate association for University students.
“I don’t think that his understanding of the black experience aligns with the experience of black students at U.Va,” Miller said.
Latino Student Alliance President Amelia Garcia, a fourth-year College student, said LSA and the broader minority community have made efforts to point out what she views as dangerous rhetoric from Trump, which may have led to recent incidents of bias at the University.
“We’ve really seen aggression against minority students, making sure that they know they don’t belong or don’t feel safe, which is very similar to Trump’s rhetoric,” Garcia said. “It’s been a little scary to see this underbelly of students that really use hateful language or believe in some of the things that he’s saying, like building a wall and having Mexico [pay] for it.”
Religious minorities at the University also overwhelmingly support Clinton, with 0 percent of Muslim voters supporting Trump. Muslim Student Association President Mariya Tayyab, a fourth-year College student, said the MSA has not made a specific endorsement, but has encouraged their members to vote.
“The results don’t surprise me too much because Donald Trump has been the most outspoken person in the media recently when it comes to rhetoric against Muslims,” Tayyab said. “Since he mentioned the ‘We shouldn’t let Muslims in’ policy from last year, I think a lot of people reacted to that specifically.”
Of Jewish voters, 89 percent support Clinton, while 3.5 percent support Trump. Similarly, 90 percent of Hindu voters support Clinton while 4.5 percent support Trump.
Clinton also has majority support from Catholic voters, with 55 percent backing her and nearly 15 percent supporting Trump.
For more information on polling methodology, click here.
Kate Bellows assisted with reporting for this article.