High profile incidents have little effect on student opinions in Daily poll

Monday, October 24, 2016 - 6:35pm


During the lead up to the presidential election, The Michigan Daily is polling students about campaign issues. This is the third iteration of the survey.

This period, the Daily’s survey was sent to 1,000 University of Michigan students and received 175 responses over a period of two days. The sample was chosen randomly from University undergraduates and is reported in the aggregate.

Support remained largely the same for most candidates from the previous surveys, with 70 percent of respondents expressing support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, 13 percent for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and 9 percent for Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson. However, support dropped notably for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, to 0.6 percent, down from 3 percent in the previous survey. Seven percent of respondents opted for "other."

Following the passage of the voter registration deadline on Oct. 11, 90 percent of respondents said they registered to vote. Various groups on campus have worked to register voters throughout the semester, including the University’s chapters of College Democrats and College Republicans — college students typically register at lower rates.

The survey also asked if state and federal congressional races are as important as the presidential election, to which 79 percent of respondents answered “definitely yes” or “probably yes.”

LSA junior Enrique Zalamea, president of College Republicans, wrote in an email that his organization has been working to promote conservative candidates up and down the ballot to encourage student voting.

“Since September, we've been actively volunteering in campaigns for congressmen and state representatives,” Zalamea wrote. “We continuously encourage everyone to do the same and to make the effort to vote for your Republican congressional candidates regardless of your opinion on our presidential candidate.”

LSA junior Collin Kelly, chair of College Democrats, also stressed the importance of congressional races, saying having a Republican Congress with a Democratic executive has been a barrier to passing legislation these past few years.

“Congressional races are more difficult to get excited for and are not covered nearly as thoroughly as the presidential election, but if we want to actually see the progressive change Secretary Clinton is advocating, it’s essential Democrats take back the House and Senate,” Kelly said.

The lack of change among students comes among recent incidents in both the Trump and Clinton campaigns — including a leaked tape of Trump making references to touching women without their consent and hacked emails from the Clinton campaign featuring controversial statements about various voting demographics — stems to indicate they have not heavily impacted support on campus.

In questions about the incidents specifically, 47 percent of respondents reported that scandals associated with Clinton impacted their views and 46 percent of respondents reported that scandals associated with Trump changed their views.

Kelly said he found Trump’s leaked comments about women, compounded by accusations from multiple women that allege he sexually assaulted them made after the tape’s release, are more noteworthy than Clinton’s email hack. He called the WikiLeaks situation a “non-scandal” that points to momentary carelessness rather than incompetence or danger, saying this could be why student support for Clinton remained unchanged. Zalamea did not respond to a question about Clinton and Trump's comments.

“(Students) knew who the candidates were and what they stood for before these came out, and all the news recently has simply confirmed that,” Kelly said.