About a week ago, I wrote about the attitudes of James Madison University students regarding the 2012 presidential election. Although you should read the previous post below if you have not done so, the summary is that 42.6% of students surveyed support President Barack Obama, while Mitt Romney has 27.8%, Gary Johnson has 2.8%, Jill Stein has 1.9% and a large percentage, 24.1%, were undecided.
After the second presidential debate, but before the third, I conducted another door-to-door poll of a different batch of off-campus JMU students to gauge how their opinions had shifted. The two questions asked were the same as before. Are you registered to vote in Virginia and, if so, which of the presidential candidates would you support if the election were held today? This time, 95 students answered. Like the last survey, their answers closely mirrored the previous results. Democratic candidate Barack Obama improved slightly, rising by .6% to 43.2%, while Republican Mitt Romney declined by 1.5%, falling to 26.3%. Libertarian Gary Johnson dropped as well by .5% to 2.1%. Interestingly, none of the respondents this time mentioned Green candidate Jill Stein as his or her top pick. As before, zero students made any comment about Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode. With this numbers, you will note that a considerable number of students were once again undecided, showing an increase of 4.3% to now rest at 28.4%. Continuing the previous trend, when considering just Obama versus Romney responses, Obama dominated with 62.1% to Romney’s 37.9%
With the two surveys combined, Barack Obama is the favorite of a plurality of James Madison students with 42.9%, Mitt Romney is second with 27.1%, Gary Johnson is third with 2.5%, Jill Stein is fourth with 1%, although not a candidate, Ron Paul is fifth with .5%, and a vast number of students are still undecided with 28.4%. In the Obama/Romney head-to-head, Obama gets 61.3% to Romney’s 38.7%.
Although I’m admittedly a political animal, I’m surprised that the number of undecided voters remains so high among JMU students. What explains this trend? Do they suffer from a lack of information, is apathy high, or is there simply a strong dissatisfaction with both of the two major party candidates? After all, as one undecided student commented, she didn’t particularly care for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.
Given the previous results, I would assume that at this point a majority of undecided students will break along the same percentages as their brethren have done, unless something changes. But a lot of factors could alter this outcome in the 13 days that remain. I hope to have one final survey of JMU students before Election Day to gain a clearer picture.