Is anyone surprised?

Nearly 67 percent of Grove City College students are supporting Republican Donald Trump in this year’s presidential race, according to a poll conducted by The Collegian.

The survey also showed that almost 19 percent of students back Biden and 14 percent say they’re backing Libertarian, Green or some other candidate.

According to Dr. Michael Coulter ’91, chair and professor of political science, anyone outside of Grove City would find this shocking. “If anyone thought that Grove City College was representative of college students nationally, this would be evidence to the contrary,” he said.

Most colleges have the complete opposite data, according to an August 2020 survey conducted by the Knight Foundation, a national journalism foundation, most colleges have the complete opposite data.  Based on 4,000 undergraduates, the Knight Foundation found that 70 percent of students are voting Biden, 10 percent are voting Trump and 20 percent are voting independent. 

Out of the 2,300 GCC student population, 620 students responded to the survey.  According to Dr. David Ayers, professor of sociology, this sample size is sufficient for an accurate poll of the campus.  “A properly sampled 1,000 is common for national studies,” Ayers said, “so 620 is fine.” 

The survey showed that 29 percent of students claim they vote based on party and 71 percent vote based on candidate. Coulter has his doubts. “Many people may say they are voting based on candidate and not party, but political scientists tend to think that someone’s party identification is a lens through which we view candidates,” Coulter says.  “Nearly everyone who identifies with a particular party, votes for the presidential candidate of that party.” 

Junior Gabrielle Hickly is an example of this idea. She states that she does not like President Trump as a person but supports the Republican party. “I am extremely pro-life and want to keep the anti-abortion things going,” she says.

On the other hand, some students truly are voting based on candidate.  Senior Caroline Wehmeyer, a self-proclaimed conservative, states she is voting for Biden this election.  “The candidate and what he stands for is more important to me than his political party,” she says.  “I chose to vote against my usual party in this election because my party didn’t present a candidate with values that align with my conscience.”

Junior Libby Krieger also voted based on candidate saying, “I voted for Trump not simply because he was the Republican candidate but because I believe he is best suited to defend conservative values and foster economic growth after the coronavirus lockdowns.”

Although, GCC is majority conservative, there are students who do not identify as Republican on campus.  Senior Matthew Fuget is a registered independent and has always planned to vote for Biden this election.  “I voted Biden because I don’t believe Trump’s policies justify tolerating his personality. I don’t want Trump to be the face of America or the face of Christians, as many of my non-Christian friends see him,” Fuget says.

Regardless of the data, this GCC survey showed that the opinion of our student body has not changed except in one thing: we are more divided.  According to a similar Student Life and Learning Survey conducted in 2016, the only difference is that less people are now voting third party, more people are taking a side. 

According to Ayers, this exemplifies our current political climate.  “We are horribly divided,” he says. “Violent talk is everywhere, cities are in turmoil.  Dysfunctional politics reflect a dysfunctional culture and no election will fix that.” 

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