Saturday, December 15, 2007

Young Voters' Candidate Preferences as 2008 Campaign Heats Up

One of the topics I like to discuss on this blog is emerging adults' political views and, with the 2008 presidential primary season getting underway soon, a recent poll provides some interesting findings.

According to an article on the "Politico" website, a Harvard Institute of Politics survey of 18-24 year-olds nationally shows a difference in the preferences of Democratic-leaning respondents, based on whether or not they're attending college:

[Barack] Obama leads [Hillary] Clinton 43 percent to 23 percent among current college students — but Clinton leads Obama among youth who never enrolled in college, 38 percent to 31 percent.

The Politico article also notes expert opinion on why these results may have emerged:

John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Institute of Politics, says that the disparity reflects a class divide. Just as Obama does better among students, he does better among young people from wealthier families. Young Democrats from lower-income families are more likely to favor Clinton, according to Della Volpe.

“Clinton is seen as more of a traditional lunch-pail Democrat,” said Della Volpe. “She is concerned with domestic issues.”

Iowa State University sociology professor Bill Woodman, whose students have studied the campaign, is also quoted to the effect that, "supporting Obama has picked up a self-perpetuating cool factor on campus."

The report of the survey directly from the Harvard IOP also discussed the candidate preferences of Republican-leaning 18-24 year-olds, but the college/non-college distinction is not highlighted.

The inclusion of young people not attending college, as well as their college counterparts, is an important element of the IOP survey. Given that social scientists are heavily based at universities, college students are a readily available population to study. The relative exclusion of same-age non-college individuals from research studies has led many scholars to label this group the "Forgotten Half" (click here for an example).

Only by studying both college- and non-college-bound youth can research on Emerging Adulthood reach its full potential.

No comments: