Poll: Students like Kerry

A Minnesota Daily poll found 61 percent of students surveyed would vote for Kerry.

Kari Petrie

University students overwhelmingly support Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, according to the latest Minnesota Daily poll.

Sixty-one percent of those polled said they would vote for Kerry, compared to 31 percent who said they would vote for President George W. Bush. One percent said they would vote for Better Life candidate Ralph Nader, and another 1 percent said they would vote for Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik. Seven percent of those polled said they were undecided.

Larry Jacobs, University political science professor and political analyst, said students support Kerry because they care more about the economy and job market, and Kerry focuses more on those issues than Bush. Students are concerned about finding a job and paying their bills, he said.

Ninety-five percent of poll respondents said they plan on voting in the upcoming election.

But Jacobs said the e-mail poll might not be an accurate depiction of all University students because the most active and engaged students are more likely to respond.

Both Jacobs and University political science professor Bill Flanigan said they expect less than 50 percent of 18- to 24-year-old Americans to vote.

The poll can confirm, however, that activists strongly support the Democrats, Jacobs said. Activists push to get others to the polls during the last days of the election, he said.

The central question in this election is whether less-politically active students will vote, he said.

Flanigan said college students are more likely to vote than their 18- to 24-year-old peers who aren’t in college.

Part of a college education focuses on citizenship and politics, he said. Also, most “get out the vote” drives focus on college campuses because it’s easier to reach students.

The poll also showed students care most about education and the conflict in Iraq and less about abortion and same-sex marriage.

Flanigan said students aren’t as concerned about differences in lifestyle choice as the older population.

Chris Montana, chairman of College Democrats of Minnesota, said abortion and same-sex marriage are emotional issues.

Montana said, “It’s no secret that students back Democrats.”

Tony Richter, vice president of College Republicans, said he was happy with Bush’s 31 percent support and the College Republicans continue to grow on campus.

Tim Srenaski, an architecture sophomore, said he wasn’t surprised most respondents support Kerry.

“Kerry’s more student-oriented,” he said.

Like respondents, Srenaski said he cares about education and the conflict in Iraq.

Mathias Green, a psychology and American Indian studies junior, said he is unsure whom he will vote for, although he’s leaning toward Kerry.

“I’m not sure if Kerry being lesser of two evils is really good enough for me,” he said.

Green said that when it comes to Iraq, he supported war, but the rebuilding efforts upset him.

Jacobs said he is concerned students won’t turn out and vote, especially when the candidates are so different in their positions on the issues.

“The complaint of no choice doesn’t cut it this time around,” he said.

– Hayley Odom contributed to this article.