College students narrowly favored Sen. John Kerry in a mock election held at Virginia Tech, although male voters leaned toward re-electing President Bush. Of the nearly 2,000 students participating in a web election sponsored by the Political Science Club, 50 percent indicated their support for Kerry and 48 percent favored Bush, club President Valerie Szybala reported today.
Echoing decades-old national trends, Kerry received 54 percent of the female votes, but only 45 percent of the males' ballots. Minor parties faired poorly among both sexes, with less than 3 percent of the participants supporting either of the minor party candidates on the Virginia ballot.
Voter registration drives aimed at students seem to be reaching their audience because about 90 percent of students participating in the "Mock the Vote" event were registered to vote. These students represented a majority of Virginia cities and counties and 33 other states. A majority of those actually registered to vote supported Kerry, while non-registrants favored Bush, according to an analysis of the data by Virginia Tech political science professor Craig Brians.
"Historically, if they win, Democratic presidential candidates garner a large portion of the votes cast by independents and moderates," said Brians, a specialist in analyzing voting and election data. In the Virginia Tech mock election more than 90 percent of conservatives voted for Bush, while more than 90 percent of liberals and almost 60 percent of moderates preferred Kerry.
"Although these data were not randomly solicited, they provide a window into many students' preferences," Brians said. He also said that a principal value of mock elections is to demonstrate the prevalence of strong student opinions about politics, and generate greater student interest in politics.
The "Mock the Vote" election data were gathered by the Political Science Club at Virginia Tech during the last week. Following several weeks of publicity, including weekly public debates sponsored by the club, 1,995 students visited the website survey, using their student IDs and passwords to log in. Slightly more women than men participated (53 percent versus 47 percent), and conservatives outnumbered liberals by a small margin (37 percent versus 35 percent).
For more information, contact Brians at (540) 231-7544.