University students shift support from third party candidates to Clinton in Daily poll

Sunday, November 6, 2016 - 2:30pm

During the lead up to the presidential election, The Michigan Daily is polling students about campaign issues every two weeks. This is the fourth and final iteration of the survey. Overall, polling data can be seen here.

This week, the survey was sent to 1,000 University of Michigan students and received 205 responses over a period of five days. The sample was chosen randomly from University undergraduate and graduate students and reported in the aggregate.

The majority of respondents in this iteration of the survey continued to identify themselves as Democrats, at 54 percent, with students identifying as Republicans forming less than half of that at 19 percent. Remaining respondents identified as Independent, Green, other or had no identification.

In comparison to previous Daily polls, more students identified themselves as Democrats or Republicans rather than third party supporters. Students continued to follow a national trend of millennials overwhelmingly supporting Democratic nominees.

When asked who they would vote for given the choice of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and third-party candidates Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, 76 percent said they would vote for Clinton — a 6-percent increase for Clinton since the most recent polling on Oct. 26.

LSA senior Lauren Gallagher, president of Students for Hillary, wrote in an email interview that she thinks student voice can be a powerful determinant in this election.

“Compared to other generational blocks, millennial turnout is typically extremely low, but, with that being said, we've seen in past elections how powerful the student voice can be,” Gallagher said. “Big name surrogate visits to our campus is the campaign sending a message that our voices matter, that the decision about what direction this country is headed in is up to us. It's my hope that students don't take this lightly and turn out tomorrow, it’s our future's that are on the line right now.”

Support for Trump remained the same at 13 percent while support for Johnson and Stein continued to drop, with support for Johnson dropping 7.3 and support for Stein dropping 2.4. The majority of respondents were confident Clinton will win the election, at 87 percent.

In response to Clinton’s high unfavorability among the general public, Gallagher said she has seen passion and excitement for Clinton among fellow students and hopes that the narrative of the “millennial problem” will be a thing of the past.

“We value a leader who supports the rights and potential of all individuals, regardless of their race, gender, religion, nation of origin, sexual orientation, or socio-economic background,” Gallagher said. “Clinton is the progressive choice in this election, her vision for the United States is a country that continues to build on the diversity that makes us great, not take us back to a time where divisions hindered our progress.”

However, plurality of students responded that this election season only had a moderate influence on their confidence in the Democratic process at 30 percent. The rest of the responses were polarized, with respondents saying it had either a lot of influence on their confidence or none at all.

This presidential race has set itself apart from previous campaigns in that the two major candidates are the most unpopular in election history after beating out multiple competitors during the primaries. In addition to the general unfavorability of the candidates, many incidents throughout the campaign have left not just students but the general population stressed about the outcome of this election.

47 percent of respondents also said they view Clinton favorably or very favorably rather than a neutral stance or dislike for the candidate. 38 percent also said they were neutral when asked if they were excited at the prospect of a Clinton presidency.

In comparison, 76 percent of respondents said they had a strong dislike for Trump, and 76 percent also said they were not enthused at the prospect of a Trump presidency.

For 86 percent of respondents, this is their first time voting in a presidential election. Capturing first-time voters has been a major push in this election as millennials now outrank baby boomers as the largest generation and thus the largest voting electorate. Especially for the Clinton campaign, convincing millennials to both vote for her and participate on Election Day has been a large part of her campaign, with President Barack Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I–Vt.)  making visits on her behalf to college towns including Ann Arbor. 

Despite low support from University students, Michigan as a whole is at play and has been frequented heavily by both campaigns. LSA junior Enrique Zalamea, President of College Republicans, said that he believes this could be the first time since the election of George H. W. Bush in 1988 that Michigan could cast its electoral votes for a Republican candidate. 

"Clinton's campaign manager Robby Mook described how Michigan has gotten so close it can now be considered a battleground state," Zalamea said. "With the incredible uptick in Republican campaign speakers across Michigan, I truly believe that this election may be the first time since 1988 that Michigan may vote red."