Poll: 87 percent support Obama

According to a survey conducted by the Record this weekend, an overwhelming majority of students will be voting for Democratic nominee Barack Obama in the upcoming Nov. 4 election. Of polled students eligible to vote, 87.3 percent reported intending to vote for Obama in the Nov. 4 election, followed by 6.5 percent intending to vote for Republican nominee John McCain. Eight-tenths of a percent said they would be voting for another candidate and 5.3 percent were undecided.

These results reflect a shift towards the Democratic candidate compared with Williams students of years past. In a similar survey conducted among Williams students four years ago for the 2004 Presidential election, 78.4 percent of students intended to vote for Democratic nominee John Kerry and 13.6 percent reported preference for George Bush. This shift indicates that 8.9 percent more students plan on voting for Obama than did for Kerry.

Democratic Party leanings were also reflected in reported party affiliation. Sixty-four percent of respondents reported being registered with the Democrats, 15 percent with Independents and 7.9 percent with the GOP. Eight-tenths of a percent report being registered with the Green Party and 0.4 percent with the Libertarians.

By gender, 2.3 percent of females plan on voting for McCain whereas 11.6 percent of males intend to.

This large amount of support for Obama comes as little surprise to those keeping a pulse on the campus political climate. Erin Samenfeld-Specht ’09, a liaison for the Williams for Obama campaign, has seen a lot of students speak up in favor of the Democratic nominee. “We’ve had a lot of support and positive responses whenever we table,” she said. “Most people on campus seem very excited about Obama and the election, which has been really encouraging.”

Raphael Menko ’12, Garfield Republicans Club representative, had the opposite reaction. “I was awfully disappointed to see how disproportionately unbalanced the numbers were,” he said. “I feel that this unfortunately speaks quite negatively on the independent thinkers of Williams College (as well as the American youth) and the lack of open-mindedness on campus.”  

According to recent Gallup polls, Obama holds a lead between 7 and 10 percent among likely voters. An Oct. 19 poll of national registered voters had Obama with 52 percent of the votes and McCain with 41 percent.

As the election approaches, 82.9 percent of eligible Williams student voters reported having submitted their request for an absentee ballot, 8.2 percent have not and 10.6 percent answered that they plan to vote in-state.

Prompted to select the issue that was most important to them in the election, 40.7 percent chose the economy. Social issues yielded 24.5 percent, foreign policy 22.4 percent and the environment 12.4 percent. The breakdown of these figures by gender, however, demonstrates significant disparities. While 32.1 percent of females chose social issues as most important, only 15.5 percent of males did. Choosing foreign policy were 16.9 percent of females and 29.1 percent of males.

The survey was sent to 600 students, 294 of whom responded. Two-hundred and seventy of those students identified themselves as eligible to vote in the United States, 248 or 92.4 percent expressed their intent to vote. The margin of error was 5 percent.