By Erik Kjer, News Editor; POL 2001, Contributors Originally published in Issue 6, Volume 33 of The University Register on November 20, 2020
A survey of over 340 University of Minnesota Morris students was conducted by Political Science students in October, before this year’s election. In our last issue we brought you some preliminary findings from students. Now we are presenting some additional findings for the second and final time. The survey revealed that Morris students have strong concerns about several key issues in the animated 2020 election. Among the most important and interesting issues are climate change, trust in the mainstream media, and the possibility of elections being conducted online.
Students at the University were extremely concerned about the consequences of climate change. 71.4% of students rated climate change as “extremely important” to them in the election. However, the issue’s importance did differ across partisan affiliation. When analyzing by party identification, some 85.9% of Democrats polled believed the issue to be extremely important, but only 42.9% of independents and only 14.0% of Republican voters viewed climate change as extremely important.
With the media landscape becoming increasingly diverse, political narratives are becoming increasingly divergent. Morris students seem to have a significant degree of skepticism regarding traditional news media. When asked if they agree or disagree with the statement “I trust the reporting of the mainstream media,” some 53.4% of students disagreed, suggesting fairly widespread distrust of the mainstream media.
However, students identifying as Democrats, are significantly more likely to trust the mainstream media compared to independents or Republicans. Approximately 40% of Democrats either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, while more than 50% of independents and more than 85% or Republicans either disagreed or strongly disagreed.
Finally, given the importance of the pandemic to voters and problems with the US Postal Service, many people have argued for adopting “online” voting. Generally, University students favor this idea, with 57.9% strongly or somewhat supporting a move to online voting, while 32% oppose and 10% stated they were unsure. Once again, students’ views vary based on political affiliation. 62.5% of students identifying as “strong” Democrats and 47.7% of Democrats overall have some level of support for online voting, while only 6.8% of Republicans and 0% of “Strong” Republicans have some level of support for online voting.
Image on top courtesy of bbc.uk.co