ELECTION 2016: Politics transcend socioeconomics

Election 2016:
Politics transcend socioeconomics

Published on October 28, 2016

Students’ political and ideological views do not vary greatly with respect to race, class, family income level or gender, a News survey suggests.

Despite varying socioeconomic statuses, nearly 67 percent of the survey’s 2,054 respondents identified as either “liberal” or “very liberal,” and 80 percent of all respondents intend to vote for Hillary Clinton LAW ’73. The survey’s results were not adjusted for bias.

(Jacob Middlekauff)

 Indeed, the Trump candidacy is so overwhelmingly unpopular with the student body, just under 5 percent of Yale students said they support Trump, that it transcends divisions often found nationally along lines of class and race.

Among respondents whose parents or guardians had a combined income of below $100,000, about 5 percent of respondents said they planned to vote for Donald Trump. This figure was within two-thirds of a percentage point of students whose parents made between $100,000 and $250,000 and only about one-tenth of a percentage point higher than among students with family incomes greater than $250,000.

Similarly, filtering survey data by respondents’ ethnic backgrounds revealed no major difference among presidential candidate preferences. Among Caucasian and African-American students, roughly 5 percent of respondents of each ethnic background indicated that they will be voting for Trump, with approximately 80 percent of each group planning to vote for Clinton.

While about 5 percent of Latino/Hispanic-American students also indicated that they supported Trump, a slightly smaller proportion than the overall percentage — about 75 percent — will be voting for Clinton.

Asian-American Yalies were the least enthusiastic about Trump, with just under 3 percent supporting his candidacy. Eighty-six percent of Asian-American respondents said they were voting for Clinton.

The campus consensus surprised some students interviewed by the News, especially in the context of this election cycle, which was repeatedly cited as divisive and unconventional in survey comments.

“Most of my friends are unable to converse about Trump because it’s as if they think I’m a terrible person,” one anonymous respondent and intended Trump voter wrote. “But then again I think they’re terrible people for supporting Clinton as well.”

Daniel Flesch ’19 said he was surprised by the fact that socioeconomic background did not align with political views but noted that the insight was illuminating.

“Sometimes not finding something is as interesting as finding something, especially in a case like this” Flesch said.

Austin Wang ’19 said the fact that political differences could not be easily accounted for by socioeconomic differences did not surprise him. Wang cited an event he attended on campus led by Kathryn Lofton, a professor of religious studies at Yale and the inaugural Faculty of Arts and Sciences deputy dean for diversity and faculty development. At the event, Lofton presented statistics which suggested that Trump’s supporters could not be accurately identified by socioeconomic divisions, Wang said.

The News’ survey results align with the findings of national polls and political surveys: On the whole, college-educated voters tend to be more supportive of Clinton’s presidency than Trump’s. An August Pew Research Center poll indicated that nationwide, registered voters holding college degrees favor Clinton over Trump by approximately 23 percentage points.

The campus consensus seen in survey results also reflects the viewpoint conveyed in a Thursday William F. Buckley Jr. Program press release, which said it was “deeply concerning” that 75 percent of News survey respondents believe Yale is not welcoming to conservative students.

Seventeen survey respondents are voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein.


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