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WIU Student Survey: Country on Wrong Track

January 11, 2012

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MACOMB, IL – A 2011 fall semester political poll of Midwest college students provides an interesting look at the current 2012 Republican presidential primaries underway and the incumbent Democrat, President Barack Obama.

The poll showed that Western Illinois University students are interested in, though not necessarily active in, the current presidential campaign, are unhappy with the direction of the nation, but would re-elect President Barack Obama. The polling was conducted online Sept. 6–Oct. 24, immediately preceding Western's student-run mock presidential election, "The Road to the White House Starts at WIU."

Sixty-nine percent of WIU students who took the political science poll said they were interested in public affairs, but only 39 percent said they considered themselves politically active. Fifty-two percent said they feel they have little to no influence on the direction of the country, which 62 percent said is on the wrong track.

"While students were interested in the presidential race, their views remain very much in flux," said Keith Boeckelman, professor and chair of WIU's political science department. "This uncertainty, combined with a fundamental mistrust of politicians and institutions, could make for a volatile 2012 election season."

Students also showed distrust in Congress with only 21 percent pleased with Democrats in Congress and 12 percent pleased with Republicans in Congress. Fifty-three percent said the most important issue is the economy and jobs.

When it came to who should be in office, 42 percent of students said they would re-elect President Obama, and 31 percent said they would prefer to see a Republican take office. Of the Republicans, Ron Paul had the largest amount of support with 19 percent with Mitt Romney closely following at 13 percent, but 31 percent of respondents said they were unsure which Republican candidate they would prefer.

"The survey showed support for President Obama has weakened among college students," said Jongho Lee, associate professor of political science and coordinator of the poll. "Interestingly, no Republican candidate has yet been seen as a viable alternative to President Obama in the eyes of college students, but we are not sure whether young voters are enthusiastic enough about President Obama to show up at the polls in great numbers."

Another finding showed that students are turning to more nontraditional sources to find their political news. Eighty-three percent of students said they find their political news on TV or the Internet, and 36 percent watch news parody shows, such as "The Daily Show," "The Colbert Report" and "Saturday Night Live." Only 10 percent reported getting political news from newspapers, where 29 percent said they used social networks such as Facebook to receive their news.

A PowerPoint presentation summarizing the survey findings is on Facebook at

For more information, contact Lee,, or Boechelman,, or phone (309) 298-1055.

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