Senator Hagan and House Speaker Thom Tillis are locked in a dead heat. Tillis holds a statistically indistinguishable 1% lead over Hagan, 32% to 31%, according to our most recent poll (Oct. 20-24th). Sean Haugh, the Libertarian candidate, is supported by 11% of students, nearly double his support among adults according to recent state-wide polls. Despite the fact Tuesday’s election day is just around the corner, a whopping 27% of students reported no candidate preference, saying they “didn’t know” who they would vote for.
Gender played a role on which candidate students preferred. Females preferred Hagan 35% of the time to Tills 25% of the time, while 37% of males chose Tillis compared to 28% choosing Hagan.
Why do so many students not know?
The most obvious reason is that, overall, very few students say they have thought much about the Senate race. A majority, 51%, said they had given very little thought about it. Just 15% said they had given it a lot of thought. Likewise, just 61% said they planned on voting, with 20% more equally saying they wouldn’t vote, or that they did not know. In 2012, the PackPoll found that just 7% of students said they wouldn’t or probably wouldn’t vote.
Of the 27% of students that answered “Don’t Know” to our question on whom they planned on voting for, 47% indicated that they did not plan to vote in the election at all. This makes sense; if students do not plan to vote they probably are not thinking all that much about the election. However, of the 27% that were undecided on a Senate candidate, 18% indicated that they still planned on voting.
Further investigation revealed one interesting difference between students who had a candidate preference and those that did not. We wondered whether uncertain students were mainly Democrats that unimpressed with Hagan, or Republicans unexcited by Mr. Tillis? Actually, not knowing who to vote for is fairly evenly distributed across party affiliation. Among Democrats, 23% said they weren’t sure who to vote for. Among Republicans, it was 20%. The real difference was that nearly half (46%) of self-described “independents” were unsure.
Percentages reporting that they didn’t know whom they were voting for were almost identical among males and females. Among those that don’t know whom they are voting for yet, 49% were males, and 51% were females.