Notre Dame students cast ballots in mock election
Megan Valley | Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Notre Dame students elected Democratic nominees Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine in Tuesday’s mock presidential election sponsored by NDVotes. Of the 857 students who participated, 59.3 percent voted for the Democratic ticket, followed by 24.0 percent who chose Republican nominees Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
Sophomore Prathm Juneja, a member of NDVotes Task Force and Student Government director of national engagement and outreach, said the mock election was intended to increase interest before the real election Nov. 8.
“The real idea was how to spark conversations on campus right before the election so we can fix this millennial voter gap we have,” he said.
Beyond the two major party tickets, 7.7 percent of votes went to Libertarians Gary Johnson and William Weld, 1.0 percent went to Green Party ticket Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, 5.6 percent selected “other” and 2.5 percent abstained.
Junior Sarah Tomas Morgan, co-chair of NDVotes, said the organization was “very pleased” with the turnout at voting polls at DeBartolo Hall, LaFortune Student Center, South Dining Hall and Geddes Hall.
“857 is about 10 percent of the student body, because we’re including graduate students too,” she said. “But 857 students making their way to four tables across campus in one day, for any poll, is quite a success.”
Voters were asked to answer post-poll questions, created and analyzed by Juneja, political science professor David Campbell and director of the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy Christina Wolbrecht, regarding their gender, dorm, year and which issues most influenced their vote.
“It’s great that everyone gets to participate in national elections, but not everyone feels like their vote matters or can see the result of their vote,” Roge Karma, co-chair of ND Votes, said. “Here in the mock election, we get a breakdown of how Notre Dame votes. We don’t just vote for a presidential candidate, we also fill out an exit poll that talks about your dorm, gender, class year. And therefore you can look at the breakdown in trends.”
The gender breakdown for voters was close — 49.1 percent responded female and 47.0 percent responded male — though there was a large gap in who they voted for: 73.9 percent of females voted for Clinton, to 45.2 percent of males, while 31.3 percent of males voted for Trump, compared to 16.4 percent of females.
Females were also far more likely to choose a major party candidate — 90.3 percent of voters — compared to males at 76.4 percent.
“I’m not sure what to make of that yet,” Tomas Morgan said. “It’s open to a lot of interpretation, but there are more things I’d like to look into with that data.”
While voter turnout amongst undergraduate classes was fairly consistent, the percentage of students who voted for Clinton increased the longer they’d been in school.
“In general, I think a lot of our results correlate with a lot of national trends,” Tomas Morgan said. “In general, the votes for Hillary Clinton going up with class goes along with the trend for people to vote more liberal with increased education. … Because that is a trend that is picked up in other national reports, I think it’s a really interesting piece of data to look at.”
That tendency to lean more towards the Democratic Party as education level increases has been a trend for Notre Dame students for several years, Juneja said.
“We got a chance to look at the 2008 and 2012 elections that Scholastic had, and they had the same trend,” he said. “That’s a trend that we should talk about — that as you go through Notre Dame, you’re more likely to vote Democrat.”
In the post-poll questions, immigration was voted the most important influence on voting decisions, with 21.6 percent, followed by party affiliation with 17.1 percent and abortion with 10.2 percent.
Of the voters who selected immigration as their most important issues, 80 percent voted for Clinton.
“We only asked a question about immigration, but that could be someone who’s pro-immigration or someone who’s anti-immigration,” Juneja said. “It seems as though people are more passionate about being pro-immigration than people are passionate about being anti-immigration.”
Juneja said it “wasn’t surprising” that abortion was ranked so high amongst important issues at the University, but Tomas Morgan said she was interested in how voters responded to that priority.
“I’d like to look at the expanded answers a little more to see what would have caused people to choose [abortion] as the one that most influenced their vote,” she said. “It’s a huge issue for a lot of people and for a lot of people voting for all candidates. Not all people who listed abortion as their highest priority fell into voting for one candidate.”
Prior to the mock election, NDVotes assisted students in registering to vote, completing absentee ballots and voter education. Karma, Tomas Morgan and Juneja all said they hoped that participation continues in civic engagement after the election Tuesday.
“I think we can continue to achieve more active participation,” Juneja said. “That’s what Notre Dame’s all about: We were created on the idea that we can create change in this country and one way to create change is to vote. If we’re not fulfilling that civic duty, how can we accomplish anything great?”