By Will Edwards
Managing & Online Editor
Donald Trump is the most popular U.S. presidential candidate among DeSales students, according to a recent Minstrel poll.
Over 28 percent of students say they will vote for the Republican nominee in November, compared to the 25 percent that favor Democrat Hillary Clinton, and the 20 percent that support Libertarian Gary Johnson.
Although about 43 percent of students on campus say they are affiliated with the Republican Party, according to the poll, only 55 percent of those respondents say they have decided to vote for Trump. Of the other 45 percent of Republicans, over 16 percent say they will vote for Johnson, and 11 percent say they are undecided. The rest either support Clinton or Stein, or say they do not plan on voting.
The numbers are reflective of the unusually large percentage of Republicans across the country that do not support their party’s current nominee, including former Republican nominee Mitt Romney, former president George H.W. Bush and Governor of Ohio John Kasich. On college campuses in particular, “College Republicans” groups at Harvard, Cornell and Penn State have said they will not endorse Trump.
“I’m not really satisfied with either candidate, and I don’t know if I want to just rush in and vote for Trump just because he’s Republican,” says junior medical studies major Mason Miller, a Republican who says he is undecided on who he is voting for. “Although I am leaning more towards Trump than Clinton at this point, because I can’t stand behind a lot of what he’s said it’s difficult for me to take that step.”
According to the poll, the number of Republican students on campus nearly doubles the amount of Democrat students, who made up a little less than 23 percent of respondents. The number of Independent students falls between the two major parties, making up 31 percent of the student body. In comparison, 41 percent of Americans say they are independents, 29 percent identify as Democrats and 26 percent say they are Republican, according to a January Gallup poll.
The campus poll also indicated that students are placing a high importance on the outcome of the election, which for many is the first that they can vote in. Over 80 percent of students tuned into the debate on Sept. 26, and over 52 percent of students say the election’s result will affect their ability to gain employment after graduation.
Jaime Gerhart, director of the center for service and social justice, says she thinks fewer students are affiliating themselves with a political party than when she started working at DeSales over eight years ago, a hunch backed by multiple polls that show an increasing number of millennials who identify as independent. But she says that students are just as excited to vote and participate in the political process as they have been in the past.
Gerhart hosted a debate viewing party on Sept. 26 that was attended by almost 200 students. Voter registration forms and absentee ballots were provided for students, and Gerhart spoke to them on thinking about what they want out of the election and the future president.
But just as important, she says, was being able to bring together students that hold “It’s on everyone” continued on page 3 different political viewpoints.
“My objective when we have these programs is to say ‘We can all sit in a room, and we can have varying views, but we’re all still a community together, no matter who we vote for,” Gerhart says. “After the election, how are we going to come together?”