Published on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 by the London Financial Times
Liberal Attitudes On the Rise Among Students In US
by Holly Yeager in Washington
The number of US university students who hold traditional liberal views increased sharply over the past year, pushed by excitement over the 2004 election and dissatisfaction with George W. Bush's foreign policy, according to a Harvard University poll released on Tuesday.
Voters aged 18-29 made up 17 per cent of the electorate in the 2004 presidential election. That exceeds the number of voters aged 65 and older, drawing increased attention to the political attitudes of young people.
The largest group of respondents 36 per cent called themselves independent, while 33 per cent said they were Democrats and 28 per cent Republicans.
While 52 per cent voted for John Kerry, the Democratic candidate, and 38 per cent for Mr Bush in last November's presidential election, 41 per cent said it was likely they would vote for a candidate from a different party in the 2008 election.
“We're talking about the true independent voter here,” said John Della Volpe, who worked on the survey.
The poll used an 11-point questionnaire to assess political attitudes. It found that 43 per cent of college students fell in the liberal category--supportive of health insurance and abortion rights while opposing Mr Bush's foreign policy up 11 percentage points from one year ago. Some 14 per cent of college students were described as traditional conservatives and 21 per cent as religious centrists, who hold moderate views that are influenced by religion. So-called secular centrists, who lean towards conservatism but are not influenced by religion, fell from 29 per cent to 18 per cent.
The students were worried about Social Security, with 70 per cent concerned that the pension system may not be there when they retire. They are more supportive of the kind of private investment accounts that Mr Bush has proposed than the broader public, but by a slim majority thinks Congress should place more emphasis on “guarantees” than on “personal control”.
Support for the war in Iraq has dropped markedly, from 65 per cent in April 2003 to 44 per cent today.
© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2005