In the height of the political season, voters of all ages are gearing up to make an educated choice as to which candidate is best fit to run our country. For college students, it may be hard to pay attention to the polls that tend to fluctuate by the week. How heavily do these polls weigh into the choices of the younger voting class?
It’s important to first know how polls are conducted in general. Most polls are conducted by polling companies or news organizations. These include sources like Fox News, CBS News, ABC News, Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, Gallup, Mason-Dixon and many others.
According to electoral-vote.com, a website that displays polling data and caucus schedules, polls are conducted through a random selection, typically through telephone calls or personal surveys. In recent years, polls such as YouGov have began to conduct Internet polls. It’s crucial for these companies to keep their samples as random as possible to get accurate results.
Some polls operate nationally, while others stay local.
News stations will take the results of these polls and display the percentages to voters. Though these polls will fluctuate in the midst of elections, some voters hold strong to their opinions while others are swayed by the candidates who sit high in the polls.
As of recently, the Gallup Poll has shown that Ben Carson is leading Donald Trump in net favorability ratings for the GOP, while Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side.
Specifically, college students say the polls either don’t influence their opinion, or they say voting isn’t for them at all. According to civicyouth.org, which focuses on youth in the United States with the hopes of building a stronger democracy, in the midterm elections of 2014, 19.9% of voters ages 18 to 29 cast ballots. This was the lowest youth turnout rate ever recorded in a federal election.
“I didn’t vote in the primaries because I really just forgot.” Grace Koenig, senior education major, said. “I didn’t happen to be in Lake Placid that day, and that’s where I’m registered. I didn’t make it back in time to vote. But I do plan on voting in the upcoming presidential elections.”
When asked what influences young voters the most, Koenig said: “For me, it’s my parents. My parents and I have discussions about the best candidates.”
Koenig also stated that she isn’t influenced much by the polls.
“I don’t watch the news, so I rarely notice the polls. They never really persuade me one way or the other. But I suppose it depends on the person and if they’re paying attention to all of the politics.”
Senior public relations student Carissa Root also weighed in on the topic.
“My mind’s already made up. I’m a huge Bernie Sanders supporter and I think it’s going to stay that way. The polls won’t affect that.”
Root continued by saying that, like Koenig, her main influences are friends and family.
“My dad’s pretty liberal, and my mom is conservative. I live with my dad, so his political preferences have always influenced me.”
“Polls just make me pull harder for the candidate that I want to win,” Root said. “It’s like watching a sporting event and you just want your team to win. You don’t change the team you’re rooting for based on the score.”
Ap.org, the website for the Associated Press, states that college-aged adults consume news in their own way, typically through social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Two-thirds of adults ages 18-34 consume their news online regularly through social media. Because of this fact, students often ignore television news, which is where most of the polls are displayed.
In combination with parental influence, polls rarely even make their way to the eyes of students, and even if they do, at that point, their minds are made up.
Root and Koenig both state that they don’t pay attention to polls. When asked who was up in the polls, neither of them knew which candidates were. Neither student minded who was, either.
Email Courtney Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org