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And The Concensus Is: Obama

This story was written by Adam Kommel, Bowdoin Orient

According to the latest poll, Barack Obama is now leading John McCain 84.3 percent to 11.0 percent or at least he is among students at Bowdoin.

According to a poll conducted by the Orient last week, 2.8 percent of Bowdoin's likely voters are undecided for the 2008 presidential election, and 1.8 percent plan on voting for candidates other than McCain or Obama.

Of Bowdoin's 1,716 students, including students studying abroad, 872 responded to the survey, which the Orient advertised through e-mail and the student digest. Of the 872 responding students, 856 said they are eligible to vote, 845 said they have registered or plan to register by November 4, and 816 said they are "guaranteed" or will "likely" vote in the presidential election. Among registered students, 52.8 percent chose to register in Maine for this election.

In the race for Maine's contested U.S. Senate seat, Bowdoin's registered Maine voters support Bowdoin alumnus and Democrat Tom Allen '67 over incumbent Republican Susan Collins by a margin of 63.5 to 16.4 percent. Undecided voters make up 13.2 percent, and 6.5 percent of them do not plan to vote in the Senate race.

In the race for Allen's vacated seat in Maine's First Congressional District, Democrat Chellie Pingree has the support of 47.8 percent of Bowdoin's registered Maine voters, while Republican Charlie Summers trails far behind at 6.3 percent. An additional 28.0 percent said they are undecided, and 14.8 percent are not voting in the House race.

According to the latest national polls, Obama is leading McCain by about 6 to 7 percentage points, and in Maine he is ahead by 15 percent. For the Senate, Collins looks headed toward re-election, leading Allen by about 12 percentage points in recent polls. For the House seat, Pingree is leading Summers by 21 points, according to a poll released by Critical Insights last week.

The economy was identified by 37.3 percent of Bowdoin's likely voters as the most important issue in the presidential election. Foreign policy (including the Iraq War) follows, at 24.9 percent.

Likely voters who named the economy as the most important issue are less supportive of Obama than the rest of Bowdoin's likely voters, giving Obama a 79.9 to 14.8 percent edge over McCain. Students who do not call the economy their top issue split 84.8 and 8.6 percent for Obama over McCain.

When asked how likely they are to vote, 86.6 percent of registered voters said they are "guaranteed" to vote, and 11.0 percent said they will "likely" vote in the presidential election.

According to a November 2004 Orient article, Bowdoin College Democrats polling found that "at least 81.5 percent of Bowdoin students voted in [the November 2004] election," although the then-College Democrats Co-President Alex Cornell du Houx "suspect[ed] the actual total was far higher."

Notably, 89.3 percent of Obama voters said they are "guaranteed to vote," while 83.0 percent of McCain voters said the same.

Thirty-four percent of registered voters said they have been following the presidential election "very closely," 56.9 percent said they have been following "somewhat closely," and 9.1 percent have been following the election "not closely."

Of students not registered with the two major parties, 75.6 percent reported for Obama and 13.1 percent for McCain.

Democrats were far more loyal to Obama than Republicans were to McCain. 96.2 percent of all Democrats selected Obama, while only 75.8 percent of Republicans plan on voting for McCain.

Eight of the 504 registered Democrats (1.6 percent) selected McCain, while seven of the 66 registered Republicans (10.6 percent) are voting for Obama.

College Democrats Co-President Max Conover, who is voting for Obama, said that he does not consider Democrats to be any more inherently faithful to their party than Republicans are.

"I don't think it's a loyalty thing," he said. "I think it's choosing the best candidate."

Of the presidential poll, College Republicans Co-President Jeff Jeng '09, who is voting for McCain, said the results were predictable.

"I'm not surprised," he said. "The campus is overwhelmingly for Obama."

Democrat Olivia Madrid '10 said the main reason why she is voting for Obama is his foreign policy.

"We need to be more aware of our place in the international community, and I think Obama is more capable of improving our standing," she said.

Democrat Hobie Kropp '08, who is graduating this December, already mailed in his vote for Obama to his home state of Missouri. For Kropp, the most important issue is the economy, but he said he would have voted for Obama based on his differences with McCain on other matters, as well.

"The financial crisis has made the economy the primary issue, and it has reinforced the decision that I already made," he said.

Katie Guttenplan '12, a Texas resident who is not registered with a party, said she voted for Obama in the Democratic primary, but is voting for McCain in the general election, a decision stemming from her distrust of big government.

"I dislike both candidates and see this election as a lose-lose situation," she said.

Guttenplan said that because a Republican president working with a Democratic Congress will get less done than a Democratic president would, McCain would "expand the government the least."

"Essentially," she said, "I picked McCain because I think he will do nothing."

Toph Tucker contributed to this report.

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