As co-blogger David Bernstein notes, the two of us conducted anonymous online presidential polls of our Constitutional Law I classes. Here are my results, for a poll conducted over the weekend just before election day:
Barack Obama (Democrat): 29
Mitt Romney (Republican): 18
Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party): 2
Jill Stein (Green Party): 1
Combining my results with David’s, we get a total of 51 for Obama, 29 for Romney, 3 for Johnson, and 1 for Stein. Obviously, that’s a much higher percentage of the vote than Obama got either nationally or in the state of Virginia (61% compared with 50.5% in the nation as a whole and 51% in Virginia). I’m pretty sure we have a representative sample of the GMU student body. Con Law I is a required course, and between the two of us we have nearly half of the GMU second year class in our sections. “Turnout” for the poll was relatively high (50 of 65 in my section). And most students pick sections based on scheduling rather than because of either their own ideology or that of the professor.
Like David, I think the results prove that GMU does not have an overwhelmingly conservative student body, or an overwhelmingly libertarian one, for that matter. Unlike in 2008, very few libertarians supported Obama this year. So it’s unlikely that very many of the GMU Obama voters are really libertarians who see Obama as a lesser evil compared to Romney. The percentage of libertarians here is likely much higher than in the general population, but still a minority.
Because the sample size is still relatively small, I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in the exact percentages in these polls. But I’m pretty confident that the level of support for Obama far outstrips that for Romney and Johnson combined.
UPDATE: I should note, as some commenters do, that the 61% figure for Obama in this student sample is pretty similar to that for 18-29 year olds nationally. Compared to other students of the same age, GMU students don’t come off as disproportionately liberal. But if the ultimate conclusion is that GMU students are roughly representative of 18-29 year olds overall, that still refutes claims that they are overwhelmingly conservative or libertarian.