Clinton leads among student voters, mirrors swing state trend

survey-graphicA Student Democracy Coalition survey of Western Carolina University students this week shows Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with a strong lead over Republican Donald Trump among student voters at the University of North Carolina’s westernmost campus.

More than 53 percent of WCU students planning to vote said they will cast their ballot for Clinton, with 30.5 percent planning to vote for Trump. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and Jill Stein of the Green Party earned 10 percent and 3 percent of the planned votes, respectively.

This 13-point lead for Clinton lines up with a Turning Point USA poll released in early September that showed Clinton with a similar lead among millennials in five potential swing states: Florida, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. With only days until election day, national polls have the candidates in a dead heat in North Carolina among all voters, making North Carolina the closest to call of those five states.

The Student Democracy Coalition survey, conducted at WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center where students are gathering for early voting, also asked students about issues that are important to them in this year’s election and factors that influenced their decision. More than 300 students were surveyed. WCU’s total student population is just over 10,800.

Here are the Student Democracy Coalition’s top five takeaways from the survey results:

  1. The economy, education and health care are the most important issues to WCU students. Sixty-five percent of students placed the economy among their top three most important political issues, followed by 50 percent ranking education in the top three and 33 percent putting health care in their top three.
  2. Donald Trump’s advertising negatively influence student opinion. The percentage of students positively and negatively affected by Clinton’s ads was about even at 44 percent for both, whereas only 23 percent of students were positively affected by Trump’s ads and 63 percent were turned off by his messages.
  3. Students are disappointed in this year’s presidential election. When asked their opinion of the election, the overall sentiment of comments collected was extremely negative. Student comments included “toxic and polarizing,” “the entire thing is a circus” and “the worst candidates I have ever seen.”
  4. Despite frustration, students are still voting. When asked why more than 90 percent of respondents are still planning to vote, the overwhelming response was because “it is my right” or “my civic duty.” Others expressed that they wanted their voices to be heard.
  5. And last but not least, Snoop Dogg lives on. Of the 10 respondents who plan to write in an alternative candidate, at least one will be voting for Snoop Dogg.