The College Vote

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Should college-age students be given more attention by Presidential candidates or are their votes already locked away? Research from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2011 showed that 27.6 percent of surveyed incoming freshmen described themselves as liberal, 20.7 percent described themselves as conservative, and a full 47.4 percent identified themselves as "middle of the road."

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Does this matter? Yes, because many of the registered college voters intend to go to the polls this fall. How many?  A spring 2012 Harvard University Institute of Politics study showed that 74 percent of four-year college students are registered to vote. Fifty-three percent of polled students said they intend to vote while 21 percent said they “probably” would. Extrapolate that outward to the 21.6 million students estimated to be attending U.S. colleges and universities in the fall of 2012 and you have numbers in the millions.

Yet, while the UCLA study showed that many incoming freshmen identified themselves as middle-of-the-road, other research shows that many college students do have left-leaning beliefs that may become stronger as they complete college. Their larger age bloc, the Millennials, may also hold more of these liberal beliefs. In fact, Millennials, or those born between 1981 and 2000, are more likely to be more Democratic or Democratic leaning than any of the other generational groups, including Gen X, the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation. So how do the beliefs of college students and young adults break down? Review the infographic below for more information, and remember, voter registration deadlines for this election have passed in most states, you can still register to vote in future elections.


A Closer Look at the Parties in 2012, Pew Research Center, August 2012, http://www.people-press.org/2012/08/23/a-closer-look-at-the-parties-in-2012/

Survey of Young Americans' Attitudes toward Politics and Public Service, Harvard University, March 2012, http://www.iop.harvard.edu/sites/default/files_new/spring_poll_12_topline.pdf

The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2011, Higher Education Research Institute, 2012, http://heri.ucla.edu/pr-display.php?prQry=88

For a complete list of sources, please view the infographic.

The College Vote

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