November 2016, Top story

How SAU voted and why




Hillary Clinton was expected to be a lot more popular among SAU students, but by how much? And what issues were most important to students as they made their decisions?

To find out answers, students in Assistant Professor Dan Holly’s “Media and Political Campaigns” course (Adonica Stewart, Amber Hagin, Laquasia Jackson, and Kelvin Mitchell) fanned out across campus on Election Day to do exit interviews with student voters.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-1-45-24-pmBased an a random survey of 40 students, Saint Augustine’s students can safely say: Don’t blame us for Donald Trumps’s stunning upset. Of the 40 students polled, 37 voted for Hillary Clinton.

None voted for Trump. (Although, to be safe, it should probably be stated that no one admitted to voting for Trump since three of the 40 respondents chose not to indicate their choice for president.)

Although the techniques of a professional polling firm were beyond the capabilities of the students conducting the survey, it was modeled on professional exit polls and the sample was fairly large for a relatively small group like SAU students.

No overwhelming issue

The survey found that there was no one overriding issue among Saint screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-1-45-35-pmAugustine’s students. The No. 1 issue was the candidate’s honesty and trustworthiness, with 23 percent choosing that as the most important factor in their vote. But the spread between the highest-ranked and lowest-ranked issues was not great. The candidates’ attitudes toward African Americans and attitudes towards women (both 13 percent) were the issue chosen by the fewest students as their top concern in the election.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-1-46-00-pmOn the other hand, there was overwhelming agreement among students that the potential to make Hillary Clinton the first women to occupy the Oval Office was important. The survey found that 61 percent of students considered that possibility very important, while only 4 percent found it somewhat unimportant or not important at all.


Students not uniform politically

The survey showed that the Saint Augustine’s University student body is not screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-1-45-43-pmas uniform as some might think. Although more students identify themselves as liberal than any other group (36 percent), almost as many consider themselves moderates (33 percent.) Only a small number of students (5 percent) consider themselves conservative, however a fairly large number (26 percent) did not pick a label or chose not to answer the question.

That might mean that s lot of students don’t want to be labelled, or it might simply mean that many are not very involved with the political process.

Jazmin Powell, a junior from Raleigh, NC, majoring in media and communications, believes her fellow students fall into two groups  – especially this year.

“This year’s election is very different from others in the way the media is covering it,” Powell said. “It seems as though younger age groups are either becoming highly involved or highly uninterested in voting.”

Results may reflect optimism

The overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton among Saint Augustine’s screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-1-46-08-pmUniversity students may reflect the optimism that many have about their future. While surveys of Americans who voted in the 2016 election showed that the economy was a big concern, especially for those who voted for Trump, the SAU survey showed that many see a bright future for themselves.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-1-45-51-pmAlmost three in four (73 percent) are  almost certain  or at least confident that they will find a good job after graduation. Not one of the 40 students surveyed said he or she was almost certain they would not find work or even somewhat uncertain that they would find work when the leave the Falcon’s nest.