With the 2012 presidential election a little over two weeks away, the Pack Poll finds President Obama and Governor Romney in a statistical dead heat among State students. Of those surveyed, 42% of respondents indicated they would vote for President Obama if the election were held today and 44% say they’d vote for Romney. That small difference is well within the margin of sampling error.
Recent national averages of the presidential election show a similar dead heat with both candidates hovering around 47%: article on HuffPost.
Romney’s even popularity may come as a surprise since media stories tend to emphasize Obama’s strength lies among this age cohort. Yet, the State student body just barely leans Republican over Democrat (46% to 42%), and a plurality of students say they are socially liberal (37%).
Nevertheless, Obama has clear problems. Of those surveyed, only 44% think the country is headed in the correct direction, a 4% drop from our polling results in the spring 2012 semester. In addition, students say they are conservative on economic issues rather than liberal by a 44% to 15% margin. Despite these problems, the President’s approval ratings remain at 50% approve, 50% disapprove.
The support President Obama has garnered among State students hasn’t translated to state level Democrats. Pat McCrory, the Republican candidate for governor leads Democrat Walter Dalton 42% to 19%. One reason Dalton performs so poorly appears to be the lack of “coattails” from Obama, who was credited with helping outgoing Governor, Beverley Purdue. Of those planning on voting for President Obama in 2012, only 43% said they’d also cast their ballot for Dalton, with 39% of them remaining undecided.
While the student body is evenly divided, the NC State faculty clearly favors the Democrats in the 2012 election. Among faculty, 82% say they plan to vote for president Obama, with only 15% expected to vote for Mitt Romney.
Given the overwhelming support for Obama, perhaps it is unsurprising that State faculty are also upbeat about the direction of the country; 76% report feeling that things are headed in the correct direction with just 24% saying otherwise. Likewise, approval rating of the President among faculty is 81%, with just 19% disapproving, and only 8% disapproving strongly.
Faculty are also more decided about their vote for Governor. The Pack Poll finds that just 11% of faculty don’t know who they will vote for. Instead, 68% plan to vote for Democrat Walter Dalton, while just 17% will vote for the Republican, Pat McCrory.
Can students have an impact on the outcome?
Will students affect the upcoming election? One factor working against their impact is the fact that their demographic remains the least likely to vote. Some evidence from recent elections shows an uptick in student turnout, however, and the youth vote has been linked to Obama’s success in 2008 in states like North Carolina.
According to our polling, compared to the spring of last year, the percentage of students registered to vote is up from 77% to 93%. This 16% increase could be attributed to the visibility to political campaigns and other organizations on campus asking students to register. For example, a whopping 91% of students polled said they had been approached by someone on campus about registering to vote. Of those students who are registered, the largest group, 31%, was registered by way of a person approaching them and asking them to register. Will this increase in registration translate into voter turnout? Only post-election data will give the answer, but being registered is the strongest predictor of actual turnout, and an early voting location at Talley student center was added to campus this election cycle.