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Poll finds students less liberal than they are perceived to be

By
April 30, 2004

Preliminary results from the first annual Swarthmore College Student Poll, conducted by Matt Fiedler ’06 and Colin Holtz-Eakin ’07 from March 29 through April 20 and released earlier this week, show that while still overwhelmingly liberal, students are more moderate than their peers believe them to be. Additionally, the poll found that while a large plurality of students supports the living wage, a large minority, 29%, expressed no opinion. The no opinion category is thought to include students who generally do not feel informed enough to have a strong opinion as well as those for whom support is conditional on the exact proposal.

The student body remains liberal, with 22% categorizing themselves as extremely liberal and 53% as slightly liberal, and overwhelmingly Democratic, with 65% choosing that party affiliation, according to information provided to the Gazette by Fiedler and Holtz-Eakin.

A selection of the preliminary results is reproduced below.

Do you think it should be legal or illegal for homosexual couples to get married?

88% – Legal
6% – Illegal
6% – No Opinion

Question: Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statement: “I feel comfortable expressing my political opinions on campus.”

18% – Strongly Agree
58% – Agree
18% – Disagree
3% – Strongly Disagree
3% – Don’t Know

Question: Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements: “I feel comfortable discussing my religious beliefs on campus.”

23% – Strongly Agree
55% – Agree
13% – Disagree
5% – Strongly Disagree
5% – Don’t Know

Question: When it comes to politics, do you usually think of yourself as extremely liberal, slightly liberal, middle of the road, slightly conservative, extremely conservative, or haven’t you thought much about this?

22% – Extremely Liberal
53% – Slightly Liberal
12% – Middle of the Road
8% – Slightly Conservative
1% – Extremely Conservative
4% – Haven’t Thought Much About This

Question: (Asked only of those who identified themselves as Democrats) Of the following ten Democrats (names rotated), who was your first choice to be the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate this year?

3% – Carol Mosley-Braun
28% – Howard Dean
1% – Dick Gephardt
2% – Joe Lieberman
11% – John Kerry
7% – Dennis Kucinich
9% – John Edwards
13% – Wesley Clark
2% – Al Sharpton
23% – No Opinion

Question: How important would you say religion is in your own life: very important, fairly important, or not very important?

19% – Very Important
25% – Fairly Important
52% – Not Very Important
4% – No Opinion