Seventy-six percent of Bowdoin students will cast their votes for Barack Obama in next Tuesday’s presidential election, while 16 percent will vote for Mitt Romney, according to an unscientific poll conducted by the Orient.
Two percent of students plan to vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson, one percent for Green Part candidate Jill Stein, and three percent remain undecided. The poll, which was distributed via email and digest post, received 719 responses between October 29 and November 1.
Obama’s support on campus has waned since 2008, when 84 percent of students reported they would vote for him. The same trend can be seen on the national stage; many states that Obama won easily in 2008 are now battleground states.
The 2012 poll suggests that the Bowdoin student body leans significantly left of both the nation and the state of Maine. The most recent national poll, conducted by Rasmussen Reports, gives Romney a 49 percent to 47 percent lead over Obama.
In Maine—a state the Democratic candidate has won in every election since 1988—Maine Pan Atlantic SMS’ September 28 poll shows Obama with a 52 percent to 37 percent lead over his Republican rival.
That same poll shows independent Angus King carrying 50 percent of the vote in Maine’s U.S. Senate race, compared to 24 percent for Republican Charlie Summers and 12 percent for Democrat Cynthia Dill.
At Bowdoin, overwhelming support for Obama did not translate into votes for fellow Democrat Dill. Perhaps buoyed by his connections to the College, where he taught between spring 2004 and spring 2012, King received 71 percent support among Bowdoin students.
The Democrat in the race to represent Maine’s First District in the House of Representatives fared better among Bowdoin students. The Pan Atlantic SMS poll gave Democrat Chellie Pingree a 57 percent to 24 percent lead over Republican Jon Courtney. At Bowdoin she leads 64 percent to seven percent.
The same-sex marriage referendum, Question 1 on the ballot, has sharply divided Maine voters. This is not so at Bowdoin, however, where 92 percent of students said they would vote “yes” to legalize same-sex marriage.
This overwhelming margin suggests that many of Bowdoin’s conservative students are willing to take a more liberal stance on social issues. Forty-five of 61 registered Republicans said they would vote “yes” on Question 1, as did 72 out of 117 Romney supporters.
Only half the respondents will vote on Question 1, however. The remaining half is either not registered to vote or registered in another state.
Many students who come from outside of Maine decided to register here because they felt Question 1 was so important.
Those who registered outside of Maine generally did so because they felt their vote would have a greater impact elsewhere.
Many Massachusetts voters wished to vote in a tight Senate race between Democrat Elizabeth Warren, and Republican incumbent Scott Brown.
Other students voted elsewhere because they did not feel entitled to vote in Maine, either because they consider their residence here temporary or because they did not feel adequately informed about Maine politics.
Thirty percent of students evaluated their knowledge of Maine politics as “so-so.” Thirty-one percent said they knew “a little” and 23 percent said they knew “very little.”
On the whole, the student body said that Bowdoin was a liberal environment. Eight-five percent of students felt professors were either very liberal or liberal, and 92 percent said the student body was either very liberal or liberal.
The economy was far and away the most important issue to students, with 42 percent citing it as the key factor, compared with 11 percent for abortion/contraception, nine percent for the environment, and nine percent for healthcare.