Candidate signs fill front yards and every other commercial on TV is a campaign advertisement, which means Tuesday’s midterm elections are approaching. And even though it isn’t a presidential election year, many St. Thomas students are getting ready to cast their votes.
Seventy-six percent of students who responded to a TommieMedia survey said they plan to vote Nov. 2. Fifty women and 27 men participated in the survey, and most were sophomores and seniors. Forty-seven percent identified themselves as supporters of the Democratic Party, 34 percent of the Republican Party and 20 percent of the Independence Party.
Students had different reasons why they were voting.
“[I plan on voting] because I have strong political standpoints and I want my voice to be heard,” said Junior Ashlee Nelson.
Senior Meghan Mumm said she has a different motivation.
“My roommate is a political science major and she is making me vote,” she said.
Sophomore Cristina Leifson has a similar reason.
“Everyone I know is very much pushy about it,” she said. “I feel like a lot of people would be mad if I didn’t vote.”
The survey results showed that most St. Thomas students consider themselves slightly to moderately informed about the election.
“I know that Tom Emmer was endorsed by people that Target gave money to,” Leifson said. “That’s literally all I know.”
Only eight percent of those surveyed said they were “very informed.”
Political TV advertisements and online news media such as online newspapers, blogs and webcasts were St. Thomas students’ primary sources for election news. Twenty-eight percent said political ads were their primary source, and 26 percent said online media provided them with the majority of their election information.
Mumm said most of her election news comes from “local online newspapers and bloggers for the Star Tribune.”
Nelson said she purposely researches the candidates.
“I take my own time to do research because I know how sneaky they can be with those ads,” she said. “The Heritage Foundation (a conservative policy research and analysis website) is one of my favorites.”
The new Tea Party movement also seemed to stump St. Thomas students, as 68 percent of those surveyed did not know whether or not they supported the movement.
“I don’t know what it is enough to say if I support them or not,” Mumm said.
Others, including Schmidt, voiced their opinions on the new movement and its politics.
“I don’t think they represent the majority of opinion,” Schmidt said. “They have a lot of people who sympathize with what they feel, but I feel they are a little more extreme.”
Sixty-seven percent of students said the biggest issue of the 2010 midterm elections was the economy. Health care was second with 21 percent.
A survey by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, conducted from Sept. 24 to Oct. 4, revealed that college-age voters, or who the survey names “millennial generation voters,” feel dissatisfied with elected officials and the direction the country is headed.
But even though approval ratings for President Obama are falling and recent polls indicate that the country as a whole is siding more with Republicans, young voters still seem to be aligning more with Democrats. The Harvard survey revealed that 53 percent of millennials wanted Democrats to keep control of Congress, compared to 43 percent who favored Republicans gaining control.
Voting for the 2010 midterm election is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at all Ramsey county polling places. Students living on-campus have to show their student I.D. to register to vote. All new registrants are also required to provide their driver’s license or Minnesota ID card number.
Students living on North Campus will vote at McNeely Hall, and those living on Mid- and South campus will vote at the Groveland Recreation Center on St. Clair Avenue. Students living off-campus can find their polling place by entering their zip code at http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us.
Colleen Schreier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.