Students’ views on polls, president

By Dan Perez

The next four years will see a familiar face in the White House with the re-election of President Barack Obama. The 51-year-old president won New Jersey’s 14 electoral votes with 1,931,644 votes as opposed to Gov. Mitt Romney’s 1,372,359.

These results coincide with what Rider students believed would be the outcome based on information gathered by their peers.

Dr. Myra Gutin, professor of communication had her students from The Making of the President: 2012 class conduct an election based poll on Oct. 15 and 16 in front of Cranberry’s and Daly’s on the Lawrenceville campus.

The data from 300 students showed that Rider favored Obama over Romney in a ratio of 70 to 29 percent, with 1 percent remaining undecided. The class also asked students if they were registered to vote, if they planned on voting, if they followed the presidential campaigns and if they sided with a particular political party. The poll also found that 92 percent of people at Rider planned on voting in the 2012 election.

“The average of Rider students who say they will vote is higher than the national average for people in the same age group,” Gutin said.

When it comes to which political party Rider students identify with, 41 percent said they were Democrats, 29 percent identified themselves as Republicans and 25 percent identified themselves as Independents. The rest said they were Libertarians.

The course, which was created in 1988, is offered every four years to coincide with the presidential elections. Gutin’s 21 students were split into three teams to construct and analyze the poll results. There was a team that constructed the survey, a team that executed the poll and a team that tabulated the results. Gutin said the poll is a good way to spark up interest in politics with students.

“The course helps students to become more engaged in politics,” Gutin said. “When you get them talking to people, like the poll made them do, the students gain an interest and learn more about the electoral process.”

A larger poll conducted this year by Rider Professor Dr. Michael Brogan’s Political Behavior class also found that student support for Obama led Romney 64 percent to 24 percent, with 11 percent remaining undecided. About 1,045 undergraduate and graduate students responded by email between Oct. 18 and 19. A comparable 2008 poll also conducted by Rider students found that Obama led Sen. John McCain about 80 percent to 20 percent.

A comparison of the Rider poll and one conducted by Harvard of four-year college students across the nation showed Rider students lean more Democratic than many of the nation’s other college students. A Harvard survey conducted earlier this month by the student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, between undergraduate and graduate students found Obama led Romney in approval 77 percent to 17 percent.

In addition to the re-election of President Obama, ABC News reported that same-sex marriage was legalized in the states of Maryland and Maine and recreational marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Washington. Some students seem to have mixed opinions on the subject of the drug now becoming a legal substance but have a positive response to the same-sex marriage legalization.

“Legalizing marijuana for recreational use in Colorado and Washington is a positive thing, but might not be a significant enough change until it is federally legalized,” Tim Hester, a senior public relations major said. “It should be legalized everywhere in the country. Law enforcement has more important things to do than chase people who choose to smoke pot. It isn’t any more harmful than alcohol and that’s legal throughout America.”

Junior secondary education major Carlee Augliera disagreed saying that other important issued need to be passed.

“I feel our country’s concern should not be legalizing marijuana until marriage equality is legalized in every state,” Augliera said. “It’s not nearly as important or monumental as the issue of marriage equality.”

Hester also said he was happy to see same-sex marriage become legal in several states and hopes other areas in the country will take notice and follow suit.

“Legalizing same-sex marriage is just like any other social change because it will take time,” he said. “Maine and Maryland just happened to be the states that opened the door. I’m glad it’s beginning to gain recognition and I think it should be universally legal.”

Students shared their thoughts regarding the outcome of the presidential race as well.

“I’m really glad Obama won,” sophomore elementary education major Marci Rubin said. “I joked with my friends and said that I would have moved to Canada if Romney became president.”

Rubin’s roommate agreed.

“Obama is the best candidate for me as a college student,” sophomore history major Rachel Sinoway said. “Obama supports Pell Grants and higher education.”

Lawrenceville resident Kevin Shield said he was disappointed with the outcome.

“I voted for Romney and I’m pretty worried what the next four years will be like,” he said. “Romney was the better candidate for the economy. Other issues aren’t as important as fiscal policy and I’m just not confident that Obama will do anything differently to better the country.”

Overall, students appear to be optimistic about what the President’s next term will bring.
“I’m happy Obama won again,” Augliera said. “You can’t fix an economy in four years, which was a lot of people’s complaints against him but I’m sure in the next four, we’ll be in much better shape than when he first came into office. It’ll just take some time.”

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