Daily Egyptian

DE poll: Bernie, Trump most popular among SIU students

By Anna Spoerre, @annaspoerre

Bernie Sanders has a considerable lead over Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton among SIU students, according to a poll conducted last week by the Daily Egyptian. 

With the March 15 primaries right around the corner — an election that decides the candidates for the presidential election in November — we decided to conduct our own poll to see how SIU students will likely vote. The straw poll was conducted via Survey Monkey thanks to funding from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

The poll, which was open from March 8 through Monday, collected 1,799 anonymous responses. It was available to all students on campus through SIU Online.

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Of the nearly 1,800 responses, 78 percent of students said they already voted or planned to vote in the Illinois primary. Of those who said they plan to vote, almost twice as many students said they would be voting for a Democratic candidate. 

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Based strictly off the results of this poll, Sanders led with 86 percent of the vote. Clinton took just 9 percent, and the remaining 5 percent were undecided.

In the Republican race, Donald Trump led with 39 percent of the vote. Ted Cruz followed behind at 23 percent and John Kasich fell into last place with 12 percent behind Marco Rubio’s 19 percent with the remaining 7 percent undecided.

Our Republican poll results were similar to the current race results. As of a Monday morning, Trump had won 460 delegates compared to Cruz’s 370.

In the Democratic race, however, Sander’s overwhelming popularity on SIU’s campus is not reflected in current national standings, where Clinton has a lead of 1,231 delegates over Sanders’ 576. 

Though Clinton started off leading the Democratic vote in Illinois, Sanders is gaining support, said David Yepsen, director of the Simon Institute.

“As of today, it’s a statistical tie,” Yepsen said. “Sanders can still take her.”

John Jackson, a visiting professor at the institute, said it’s not surprising Sanders ranked so high among students considering the state’s budget impasse and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed cuts to higher education funding.

Most students polled said they were supporting their chosen candidate based off his or her stance on important issues. When asked to elaborate on this, 38 percent said education was the leading influence of their vote.

MORE: Here’s how the remaining candidates view issues such as gay marriage and immigration

Students also said tax reform, healthcare and immigration were important factors. Climate change, gun control, abortion and refugees took a backseat — all with less than 10 percent of the vote.

As for those who said they would not be voting in the Illinois primary, nearly half said it was because they are not Illinois residents. Other common reasons included not knowing enough about the candidates, not liking any of the candidates and not knowing how or where to vote.

“I do not want to be slated into a party. I feel more independent/moderate than anything else,” one participant wrote. “I would vote in the primary if declaring a party was not a part of it.”

Ten percent of those not voting said it was because they do not believe their vote matters.

“The electoral college votes regardless and even if my vote did matter, it would be like choosing between Hitler and Stalin,” another participant wrote.

Yepsen, who referenced recent political protests in Chicago, said this election in particular comes at a time in which many people are angry and afraid, which is really driving the electorate. 

“This election is different because both parties are searching for a sense of direction,” Yepsen said. “Passions are running high on both sides.”

Bill Lukitsch contributed. 

Anna Spoerre can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325. 

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