Enthusiasm gap between Dems and Republicans
Despite fears of low voter turnout among millennials, the vast majority of Yale College students eligible to vote plan to cast their ballots in the upcoming presidential and congressional races.
According to a News survey sent out to the undergraduate student body on Oct. 11, 94.3 percent of eligible voters are registered and 85.07 percent of total respondents said they would “definitely” vote in the presidential election on Nov. 8. An additional 8.69 percent of respondents said they would “probably” vote, and the number of students who responded that they probably or definitely would not vote trails at just 3.84 percent.
This News survey accounted for 2,054 responses, which represent 37.58 percent of Yale’s undergraduate population. Results have not been adjusted for bias.
Among campus Democrats, 90.3 percent indicated that they will definitely vote in the presidential race, exceeding the campus average by 5 points. Even among the roughly 30 percent of campus Democrats who said they were frustrated with Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 as their party’s nominee, 85.92 percent said they supported her for the presidency and 93.24 percent said they probably or definitely would vote.
The Yale College Democrats hope to increase this already high percentage of pledged undergraduate Democrats voters through several initiatives set to take place in the coming weeks. YCD Elections Coordinator Michelle Peng ’19 said the YCD will canvass on campus and register Elm City residents on the New Haven Green this Saturday as part of an initiative called Day of Action.
But this weekend’s event will not be the last time YCD will engage Yalies and New Haven residents, Peng said. The YCD plans to canvass, register voters and provide information about polling locations and hours on Get Out the Vote weekend, which immediately precedes the election on Nov. 8, according to Peng.
However, other groups across the political spectrum at Yale do not view the election with the same level of enthusiasm as students who identify as Democrats.
While two-thirds of students who identify as Republican are slated to vote in the general election, 85.12 percent reported frustration with Donald Trump, the GOP nominee.
“I want to promote what I believe as Republican ideals. But at the same time, I fear saying the word Republican or even coming across as Republican, because I don’t think [the Republican party and Republican organizations on campus] truly represent those ideals.”
—Ryan Goding ’18
This sense of disenchantment largely stems from many Yale Republicans’ concerns over its party nominee’s temperament. Ryan Goding ’18, a Republican registered in Nebraska, said he thinks it is “morally wrong” to vote for Trump.
“I want to promote what I believe as Republican ideals,” Goding said. “But at the same time, I fear saying the word Republican or even coming across as Republican, because I don’t think [the Republican party and Republican organizations on campus] truly represent those ideals.”
Goding noted that Republican organizations at Yale, such as the Yale College Republicans and the Yale New Republicans, lag behind in their efforts to reach out to the conservative voting base on campus and encourage Republican-leaning students to participate in political discourse. He added that he neither interacts with these organizations nor feels compelled to vote by their activism.
According to YNR co-chair Ben Rasmussen ’18, the organization is considering sending members before Election Day to canvass for Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the first-term GOP incumbent from New Hampshire. But the YNR is not collaborating with the YCR in this election cycle, Rasmussen said.
Despite the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans, statistics for engagement in the election were similar across party lines. Eighty-nine percent of Democrats identified as either “engaged” or “very engaged” in the national election, compared to 85 percent of Republicans.
The vast majority of Yale’s student body sees itself falling in line with either the Democratic or the Republican camp, according to the News’ survey, and only 3.33 percent of respondents said they will vote for Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson or Green Party nominee Jill Stein.
Victoria Bentley ’17, a Stein supporter, said current Green Party policies most align with her vision for the nation, adding that during past election cycles, she voted across party lines. Bentley said she threw her support behind the Stein campaign this summer after Sanders dropped his bid for the White House and petitioned in New Haven to get Stein, a third-party candidate, enough signatures to appear on the presidential ballot.
Bentley said she acknowledges the strategic political protest among voters who usually vote and choose not to in this election year but deems it to be a bad idea.
“There are enough options if you consider third parties,” Bentley added. “There are more voices. I think there is something for everybody.”
Yale students’ engagement in the national election does not extend to local politics. While 1.86 percent of students said they were “very engaged” in Connecticut politics, 38.43 percent identified themselves as “very engaged” in the presidential race. An additional 7.26 responded that they were somewhat engaged in the Connecticut political scene, and 50.88 percent said they were not at all engaged.
City spokesman Laurence Grotheer said he was not surprised by these findings and noted that the city would benefit from increased student involvement in local politics.
“College students in New Haven are in a transition between where they were raised and where they live now, and their interest in local government and activism is also in transition,” he said.
According to the survey, Yalies are registered to vote in 48 states and Washington D.C.