Mercyhurst College undergraduates joined their contemporaries from four battleground states in favoring Barack Obama for president, according to a new CBS News survey released Monday, Oct. 27.
Nearly 29 percent of Mercyhurst undergrads participated in Youth Vote '08, an online poll conducted by CBS News, The Chronicle of Higher Education and UWIRE. Mercyhurst's participation level positioned it ninth out of the 49 colleges and universities randomly selected from across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado and North Carolina, a poll spokesman said.
Mercyhurst is the only college in the region that participated in the survey.
"In what many have called the 'Year of the Youth Vote,' Mercyhurst College students have demonstrated excitement over this year's presidential election as well as an increased concern over issues like the economy," said Mercyhurst College President Dr. Thomas J. Gamble. "That nearly 29 percent of our students completed the recent CBS News survey, placing us ninth out of the 49 schools participating, is evidence that Mercyhurst students are actively engaged and, with their contemporaries, may well be a pivotal force in this historic election."
Results of the survey were to be reported this week on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. Overall, the survey polled nearly 25,000 students, showing them as more alike than different in their views. Mercyhurst's sample was 2,398, of which 686 students, or 28.61 percent, completed the survey.
Overall, the poll showed six in 10 students favor Barack Obama for president. At Mercyhurst, 61.9 percent marked their choice as Obama/Biden; 34.9 percent, McCain/Palin; and 3.2 percent indicated "someone else."
Like adults nationwide, college students are concerned about the economy, the top issue for them, according to survey results. At Mercyhurst, 74.9 percent of respondents ranked the economy as the issue of most importance in this election followed by the war in Iraq, 48.2 percent; education, 44.2 percent; energy policy, 43.8 percent; health care, 32.4 percent; environment, 30.1 percent; and immigration, 12.3 percent.
With one exception, Obama rated more highly than John McCain on every candidate quality measured in the poll. When asked if the candidate is someone you "can relate to" - 58.4 percent of Mercyhurst students said yes to Obama; 28.5 percent said yes to McCain. Someone who "can bring about real change" - 71.5 percent indicated Obama; 32 percent, McCain. However, the poll results showed McCain stronger than Obama on being "an effective commander in chief." Likewise at Mercyhurst, 68.9 percent of respondents ranked McCain as an "effective commander in chief;" 28.5 percent, Obama.
On the vice presidential candidates, 27.6 percent of Mercyhurst respondents said they "really like" Biden; while 14.3 percent said "I don't much like him or her." For Palin, 17.8 percent said "really like;" 49.2 percent said "I don't much like him or her."
All Mercyhurst full-time undergraduate students had the opportunity to take the online poll, which was sent directly to their campus e-mails Monday, Oct. 6. The Cornell University Survey Research Institute conducted the survey.