Understanding which factors affected CMU voters in election

Credit: Theodore Teichman/Photo Editor Credit: Theodore Teichman/Photo Editor Credit: Theodore Teichman/Photo Editor Credit: Theodore Teichman/Photo Editor Credit: Theodore Teichman/Photo Editor Credit: Theodore Teichman/Photo Editor Credit: Theodore Teichman/Photo Editor Credit: Theodore Teichman/Photo Editor

The Tartan conducted two exit surveys on Election Day: an online survey of Carnegie Mellon undergraduates and an in-person survey of people who voted on campus. Both surveys revealed overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton. However, possibly due to hesitancy among Donald Trump supporters to reveal their preferences in person, Trump fared significantly better in the online survey.

Which candidates did students vote for?

Of the respondents to the online survey who voted in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, 77 percent supported Hillary Clinton, 13 percent supported Donald Trump, 7 percent supported Gary Johnson, 1 percent supported Jill Stein, and 2 percent supported another candidate.
In contrast, 88.6 percent of respondents to the in-person survey supported Clinton, 5.7 percent supported Trump, 2.9 percent supported Johnson, 1.9 percent supported Stein, and 1 percent supported another candidate (Figure 1 on A3).

How did voting vary by college?

The online survey reveals significant differences in voting behavior among students in different Carnegie Mellon colleges and schools. 93 percent of students surveyed in the College of Fine Arts supported Clinton, while only 67 percent of students in the Tepper School of Business did. The rest of Carnegie Mellon colleges and schools were in the middle, with rates of support for Clinton between 73 and 81 percent.

Which issues were most important to students?

We also asked about the issues that were important to people when deciding their vote. In the in-person survey, we asked respondents to select from a list the single issue that was most important to them, and the most common answers were (1) foreign policy/national security, (2) energy/environment, and (3) immigration.
In the online survey, we allowed respondents to select as many issues as they wanted (Figure 2 on A3). The most commonly selected issues were immigration (60 percent), education (60 percent), and foreign policy/national security (57 percent). We split up economic issues into trade, taxes, jobs, student debt, and economic inequality, which could explain why the economy seemed less important to respondents.

Which issues mattered most to Clinton and Trump supporters?
In the online survey (the only one in which there were enough Trump supporters to draw conclusions) there were significant differences in the issues that mattered to Clinton and Trump supporters. Clinton supporters were twice as likely as Trump supporters to vote based on economic inequality, nearly four times as likely to vote based on energy/environment, nearly twice as likely to vote based on healthcare, and twelve times as likely to vote based on LGBTQ Rights.

On the other hand, Trump supporters were nearly three times as likely as Clinton supporters to vote based on campaign finance (although the issue wasn’t very important to many of either candidate’s supporters), significantly more likely to vote based on foreign folicy/national security, more than twice as likely to vote based on jobs, twice as likely to vote based on taxes, and more than three times as likely to vote based on trade.
Despite the repeated chants of “CIT, CIT CIT, we have job security!” during Carnegie Mellon’s freshman convocation, College of Engineering students were more likely than students of any other Carnegie Mellon school/college to vote based on jobs. (The issue was important to 54 percent of them when deciding which candidate to vote for).

How did male and female students vote?

Breaking it down by gender, we notice significant differences both in the candidates voted for and the issues found important.Of female respondents to the online survey, 89 percent voted for Hillary Clinton, compared with 65 percent of male respondents. Not a single female respondent voted third party, while 14 percent of male respondents supported Gary Johnson and 1 percent of male respondents supported Jill Stein.

Unsurprisingly, female respondents were far more likely to select abortion as an issue that was important to deciding their vote. (74 percent of females chose it, as opposed to only 32 percent of male respondents.) Female respondents were also far more likely to select education, LGBTQ Rights, healthcare, guns, and student debt as issues that were important to them. On the other hand, male respondents were significantly more likely to select foreign policy/national security, jobs, taxes, and trade as important issues. Male and female respondents demonstrated nearly equal interest in criminal justice and energy/environmental issues.

There was a significant enthusiasm gap between male and female Hillary Clinton supporters. Of female Hillary Clinton supporters, 82 percent expressed enthusiastic support, while only 54 percent of males did. There was also an enthusiasm gap between male and female Donald Trump supporters. Female Trump supporters were equally likely to express “enthusiastic” and “reluctant” support for Donald Trump, but male Trump supporters were nearly twice as likely to express “enthusiastic,” rather than “reluctant,” support for their candidate.

Female respondents were also more likely to consider themselves to be “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal” than male respondents, and were more likely to support Democratic Senate and House candidates.

A link to the online survey was posted in the Facebook groups of the four Carnegie Mellon classes. The link was also released on The Tartan’s Twitter account. For unclear reasons, far more juniors answered the survey than members of the other classes, while sophomores were underrepresented. There were no significant differences between the classes.

Questions about the surveys can be sent to