Poll: Majority of GW students support Obama

The battle for swing states like Ohio and Virginia might still be close in the presidential race, but Sen. Barack Obama has a clear lead on GW’s campus, according a poll of more than 600 students conducted by The Hatchet last week.

Seventy-four percent of undergraduates said they support Obama, while 20 percent supported Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain. The remaining 6 percent were undecided or voting for a third-party candidate.

The Hatchet polled 634 undergraduate GW students between Oct. 3 and Oct. 7. The poll was conducted by Hatchet writers and staff members who passed out surveys to students at randomized locations across campus. The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.

The Elliott School of International Affairs comprised more than half of the poll’s respondents, although they make up about a quarter of GW’s undergraduate population. There was no statistically signifigant difference in candidate choice by school, however.

The most recent national polls show Obama leading McCain by about eight percentage points, according to Pollster.com.

A higher percentage of GW women preferred Obama, with 77 percent of women supporting him, compared to 69 percent of men.

Men were more likely to support McCain, who received 24 percent of their vote, compared to 16 percent of women.

Political science professor Christopher Deering said there is a definite gender gap between the two parties.

“You would expect McCain to do well among men,” he said. “And women tend to be attracted to the Democratic Party.”

When asked to classify themselves ideologically, 53 percent of students said they were liberal or very liberal, 12 percent said they were conservative or very conservative, 33 percent were moderate and 3 percent called themselves apolitical. The poll found that 45 percent of men and 58 percent of women were either liberal or very liberal, while 19 percent of men and 8 percent of women were conservative or very conservative.

Among self-proclaimed moderate voters, Obama was the clear favorite and received more than twice the support as McCain.

Obama did well among self-identified religious voters, garnering 65 percent of their support and 80 percent of nonreligious support.

The percentage of students who identified themselves as religious was nearly identical to those who did not, with 46 percent saying they were religious and 44 percent saying they were not. Eleven percent were unsure.

Despite the historical trend of religious voters supporting the Republican candidate, political science professor James Lebovic said GW’s large Jewish population could account for Obama’s high numbers since Jewish voters traditionally vote Democrat.

More than half of students said the economy was the most important issue to them in this election. Foreign policy came in second with 22 percent.

The graphic in the print edition listed incorrect percentages for answers to the question, “Do you plan to vote in the upcoming election?” It has been corrected online.

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