Poll finds U students are interested in politics

Kari Petrie

Almost 95 percent of University students consider politics somewhat or very important, according to The Minnesota Daily’s latest poll.

The poll, conducted through e-mail from Sept. 27 to Thursday, found that students consider education and the economy the most important issues. They are also more than twice as likely to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry than President George W. Bush.

The high percentage of students interested in politics could be because those most interested in the subject are more likely to respond to the poll, University political science professor and political analyst Larry Jacobs said.

But he said that the fact students seem more involved in politics is good news.

“It’s really alarming that younger citizens who don’t feel connected to the political process are tuning it out,” Jacobs said. “So it’s very heartening to see that they are now interested and plan on voting.”

Poll results also show that University students prefer Kerry and vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards to Bush and vice president Dick Cheney.

Sixty-one percent of poll respondents said they would vote for the Kerry/Edwards ticket, compared with 28 percent who said they would vote for Bush/Cheney. Three percent said they support independent candidate Ralph Nader, and the remaining 8 percent of students were undecided.

Jacobs said younger voters tend to support Kerry because

of the situation in Iraq and his stance on health care, which

is a real problem for some students.

First-year biomedical engineering student Jimmy Yang said he does not plan to vote in the presidential election. He said he doesn’t care who’s elected and is tired of different political groups fighting over control of the government.

But Yang said he likes Kerry better than Bush because he thinks Kerry will help local communities, while the president is more concerned with war.

According to the poll, the most important issues to students are education and the economy. Jacobs said these issues

are probably important to students because they hit close to home.

Raquel Walsh, a genetics sophomore, said she is going to vote for Bush because he opposes abortion.

Walsh said it’s important for students to vote, because they could have a big impact on the upcoming election.

Eighty-four percent of survey respondents said they planned on voting in the upcoming election.

Jacobs said that if students vote, politicians will pay more attention to issues students care about. He said politicians spend so much time talking about Medicare, because older citizens vote more than other population groups.

Although U.S. students seem to be paying more attention to politics, international student Burhan Biner said student political activity in the United States pales in comparison to that in his native Turkey.

“Over there it’s like supporting a (sports) team,” the economics graduate student said. “The attention span is much bigger.”