Peer Influence on Political Preference: Final Post

For my fifth and final post, I will discuss the main conclusions of my research as well as strengths and weaknesses of the project.

Overall Conclusions
While the results of my research are not what I expected to find, they provided interesting insights into the political climate at the College. Overall, 58.3% of subjects identify with the Democratic party, which is less than the number that identify as liberal. You can see in the pie chart below the distribution of party identification. The subjects who considered themselves unaffiliated or another party, but not independent, amount to nearly the same number of subjects consider themselves conservative or republican. This is different from the subjects who identify as liberal, but not necessarily democrat.

I’ve provided a visual representation of the sample’s political and ideological preferences.

party pie chart

overall pie chart

The strength of the relationship of democrat-liberal and republican-conservative could be attributed to party unity and message. Both major parties are trying to unify their message to retain and expand support. Throughout the 2016 Presidential election, some on the left felt that they could not identify specifically with the Democratic party. We saw this with the primary campaign between Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The fraying of liberals at the College to various political parties may show that students are less willing to fall into a major party in order to have their message successful than they are to stay true to their beliefs by finding a group in which they identify most.

Strengths

In the survey, I asked enough questions to be able to choose which indicators of political activity and preference were the most useful and applicable to my research. The questions were ordered in a way that encouraged subjects to consider their political activity and how it affects their political preference. I am happy that I asked questions regarding country of origin, class year, and voter registration as it provided further insight into the results of other questions.

Weaknesses

One of the first weaknesses that comes to mind is my sample size. I believe that the sample was representative of the population (students at the College). Political preference is not necessarily something that can be controlled for when selecting a sample. I think that my research would have benefitted from a larger sample size to attain a more accurate analysis of political preference at the College. In addition, asking about familial political preference directly, as opposed to comparing younger and older students, may have been helpful.

 

I greatly enjoyed this research. I have always been fascinated with political activity and behavior; it was especially intriguing to learn about the activity and preferences of my peers. Spending more time on this project as opposed to the freshman Monroe projects was also helpful and allowed me to immerse in the material. Thank you to Professor Evans and the Monroe program for this opportunity. I look forward to sharing my research at the showcase and learning more about other scholars’ research!

Comments

  1. ammeadows says:

    Hey Megan! Hope your summer has been going well. This is a really interesting project in our current political climate. I’m a little surprised that conservatives make up 16 percent of the student population at WM. I thought the population of conservatives would be considerably smaller. I think a lot of conservatives tend to keep quiet regarding their political beliefs because support for certain candidates and ideas could seriously hurt their reputation. Do you think colleges should consider ideological diversity in their admissions processes? I realize this is a loaded question, but colleges seem to have become echo chambers, in which a large ideological portion of the country has little representation. I look forward to learning more about your research at the showcase!

  2. dpmcglynn says:

    You talked about how there has been some splintering between Republican-conservatives and Democrat-liberals this past election cycle, but do you know if this last election greatly changed people’s political stances? It seems like people are becoming more polarized, but I wonder if some people became more moderate instead. Overall I am surprised the percentage of democrats is only like 60%, it seems like almost everyone is when talking in everyday conversation. Great project.

  3. aclancaster01 says:

    Hi, Megan!
    This is a fascinating project. You constructed a nice method of gathering data on the political preferences of students at this college, and did a thoughtful analysis of what you found. I have also been interested in the political climate here, especially after the most recent election. I expected that most students here were either moderately or extremely liberal, as was confirmed by your data. I feel like it is easy to make assumptions about the political views of the entire campus based on those that one associates with, but the way that you collected your data is representative of the population of the college, which provides a more objective analysis of campus political climate. Well done!

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