Poll Gauges U. Utah Political Views

This story was written by Dustin Gardiner, Daily Utah Chronicle
The University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics collected 1,768 surveys for its first student straw poll. Students responded to the survey in class or online.

While there are more female students than male students at the U, 58 percent of poll respondents identified themselves as male, 41 percent said they were female and about one percent of respondents did not list their gender.

Bryson Morgan, a staffer at the institute, said the gender gap is likely tied to survey distribution. He said a large portion of ballots were distributed to hard science classes, which tend to have a higher number of male students.

ROMNEY LEADS PRESIDENTIAL FIELD

Republican Mitt Romney was the top choice for president, but more students appear to favor Democratic presidential candidates in 2008.

The top two Democrats, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, received 44 percent of the votes, while Republicans Romney and Rudy Giuliani received 38 percent.

Sen. Obama, D-Ill., trailed Romney by two points. Sen. Clinton, D-N.Y., came in 12 points behind Obama.

Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute, said former Mass. Gov. Romney likely appeals to many Utahns who share a common religion with Romney (he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and remember him as the CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He said Obama has a personality that appeals to many students.

"Each of them bring a new optimistic message to America," said Jowers, a Romney supporter and Republican. "I think college students are looking for that."

Jowers also pointed out that students chose Obama and Romney over Clinton and former New York City Mayor Giluliani, who lead their parties in national polls.

BUHLER AT FRONTRUNNER BECKER'S HEELS

While other polls put Salt Lake City mayoral hopeful Ralph Becker far ahead of opponent Dave Buhler, Becker narrowly beat Buhler in the U's poll.

Becker received 45 percent of the votes compared with Buhler's 42 percent. More than 12 percent of students polled favor someone not competing in the general election.

The latest Dan Jones poll gives Democrat Becker an 18-point lead over Republican Buhler in the officially non-partisan race.

Senior Chris Strong, a Becker fan, was caught off-guard by the poll's numbers.

"I really thought (Becker would) be a lot higher than Buhler," said Strong, an environmental studies and urban planning major.

Hinckely Institute Director Kirk Jowers said the poll could reflect Buhler's connection on campus (he is an adjunct professor in political science) or the fact that students simply think highly of both candidates. Becker also works as an adjunct professor at the U.

STUDENTS SAY NO TO VOUCHERS

The majority of students polled said they oppose Referendum 1, which would create a school-voucher law in Utah.

The program would provide vouchers ranging from $500 to $3,000 for families that choose to send their children to private schools rather than public schools.

Senior Adriana Rodriguez said she opposes vouchers because she thinks they could take money away from the public schools.

"The public school system is suffering, and I think students want to see it improve," said Rodriguez, a psychology major.

"This story appears courtesy of UWIRE, a news service powered by student journalists at more than 800 universities. To learn more, visit UWIRE.com."
© 2007 Daily Utah Chronicle via U-WIRE
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