ELECTION 2016: Presidential candidates

Election 2016:
Just five percent of students support Trump

Published on October 24, 2016

As the 2016 presidential election fast approaches, the vast majority of Yale undergraduates are in agreement: They’re with her.

According to a News survey distributed earlier this month, Yale students overwhelmingly support Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton LAW ’73. Of the 2,054 students who completed the survey, 1,657 respondents, or 80.87 percent of the total, said they support Clinton for the presidency. Of the 1,814 who support either GOP nominee Donald Trump or Clinton, 94 percent backed Clinton. Even among students who identify as Republicans, 29.92 percent said they will vote for Clinton, slightly more than the 26.14 percent of Republicans who said they supported Trump. Seventeen percent of self-identified Republicans said they were not behind either candidate.

The News distributed the survey in early October, around the time a 2005 tape surfaced showing Trump bragging about groping women. Roughly 5 percent of all respondents said they supported Trump, less than the 5.91 percent who said they did not support any of the candidates.

The 2,054 respondents make up 37.58 percent of Yale’s undergraduate population, and results have not been adjusted for bias.

In follow-up interviews, respondents said Yale students’ overwhelming support for Clinton is unsurprising.

(Rebecca Yan)

“The overwhelming majority of Yale undergraduates are very liberal or Democratic in their beliefs,” said Ethan Lester ’20. “That’s just statistics.”

And at least for now, the pro-Clinton outcome at Yale reflects national polls that show the Democratic nominee ahead of her GOP rival in both the popular vote and the electoral college. The New York Times’ Upshot, an analytics blog updated daily, currently gives Clinton a 93 percent chance of winning on Election Day.

And as Republicans nationwide withdraw their support for their party’s nominee, many Republicans at Yale are doing the same.

Jack Palmer ’19 — a Republican who supports Clinton and is not affiliated with the Yale College Republicans — said he plans to put aside his party loyalty.

“I think that especially with a candidate that strays pretty far from the fundamentals of the party, it’s where critical thinking comes into play, and you just have to say, ‘What do I think is best and what do I think is the right thing to do here,’” Palmer said.

More than 86 percent of Republican respondents said they are dissatisfied with Trump, who has polarized conservatives across the country since announcing his bid for the presidency in June 2015.

(Rebecca Yan)

In August, the Yale College Republicans endorsed Trump, even after their counterparts at Harvard publicly denounced him. In response to the Yale College Republicans’ decision, four board members left the organization and formed an alternative group called the Yale New Republicans, which does not support Trump.

In addition to the roughly 85 percent of respondents who said they support Clinton or Trump, 2.49 percent sided with Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, and 0.83 percent expressed support for Green Party nominee Jill Stein. Of the remaining 11.08 percent, 2.34 percent said they supported other candidates, 5.91 percent said they did not support any of the candidates and 2.83 percent described themselves as undecided.

Reflecting sentiment across the United States, nearly 40 percent of respondents said they are frustrated with their party’s nominee. Similarly, a Pew Research Center poll released late September revealed that only 25 percent of Clinton supporters and 28 percent of Trump supporters would be “excited” if their candidate won.

 Among Democrats, around 30 percent of respondents said they remain dissatisfied with their nominee. During the Democratic primary, a majority of college-aged liberals sided with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). In a survey distributed by the News to the class of 2019 in August, 38 percent of the 853 respondents said they supported Sanders while Clinton and Trump received 23 and 1 percent, respectively.

Despite students’ frustration with the two major nominees, the News’ survey found relatively little support for the two most prominent third-party candidates. Only 1.66 percent of respondents who described themselves as “very liberal” said they support Stein. And among Republicans who do not support either Clinton or Trump, 37.93 percent of respondents said they would not support a candidate at all, compared to 23.28 percent who said they would vote for Johnson.

“I think that especially with a candidate that strays pretty far from the fundamentals of the party, it’s where critical thinking comes into play, and you just have to say, ‘What do I think is best and what do I think is the right thing to do here.’”

—Jack Palmer ’19

Justin Jin ’20, who voted for John Kasich in the Republican primary but worked for Clinton’s campaign following Kasich’s withdrawal, said that he supports Clinton because she is the least offensive option.

“I don’t agree with pieces of her foreign policy,” Jin said. “But you’re comparing her to Trump, who hasn’t articulated what he wants to do, and Johnson, who doesn’t know where Aleppo is.”

But the majority of Yale’s Democrats, unlike their Republican counterparts, said they were not frustrated with their party’s candidate. Even students who identified as “very liberal” Democrats, a group that voted largely for Sanders in the Democratic primary, said they were content with Clinton. Only 35.26 percent indicated that they were unhappy with her as the Democratic nominee.

Joseph Young-Perez ’20, who voted for Sanders in the primary but now supports Clinton, said the candidate represents hope for real progressive change.

“She’s not a perfect candidate, but since [Sanders’] withdrawal, she’s adopted some policies that are distinctly more progressive than they were before,” said Young-Perez, specifically citing Clinton’s stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multinational trade agreement.

He added that liberal reform will only be achieved if progressives work within the Democratic Party and support its candidate. The prospect of a Trump presidency is “far too ghastly” for any progressive to consider voting for a third-party candidate, he said.

Still, some Republicans at Yale remain ardent Trump supporters. Karl Notturno ’17 — a Republican who said he is happy to be voting for Trump — called the news coverage of the GOP nominee’s comments on women and minority groups “mostly media hit jobs.”

“If you look at the comments he makes about women, you find equally critical comments about men and their appearances,” Notturno said. “If anything, he’s one of the least sexist people, because he treats men and women pretty similarly, at least in the way that he talks about them, and doesn’t hold any punches for each sex.”

Notturno, who has made phone calls for the Trump campaign, said he prefers Trump’s emphasis on national security to Clinton’s “warmongering.” He added that the Republican nominee would bring much-needed “common sense and efficiency” to Washington, D.C.

The final presidential debate was held last Wednesday.

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