While President Barack Obama has seen his national approval rate tumble since the beginning of his presidency, his support among college students stays strong.
According to a recent poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics, support for Obama among college students has actually increased by nine percent since October, bringing his college-student approval rate to 60 percent — a figure markedly higher than the 48-percent approval rate Obama held nationally for the week of March 28 in a recent Gallup poll.
Maryam Ahranjani, a law professor at American University in Washington, D.C., suggests that the enthusiasm generated by Obama’s 2008 campaign has remained present in students more so than anyone else.
“The excitement and the energy and the sense of hope that he represented is something that young college students are more likely to keep alive than people who have bills to pay, who are being more harshly affected by the economy,” Ahranjani said.
Obama’s fundamental role in advancing policies that are important to college students — such as the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the now-stalled healthcare reform bill, which would allow students to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until the age of 26 — also play a big role in maintaining student support for him, Penn Democrats President and College sophomore Isabel Friedman said.
However, 2010 Graduate School of Education graduate Dan Chinburg, who founded the Penn Tea Party Branch while at Penn, thinks that “a lack of diversity in the type of intellectual views available to students” in college also plays a role in the political homogeneity on college campuses.
“College students … don’t feel the pain of big government policies yet,” Chinburg said.
“Conservative ideas can’t be fully appreciated until a person is a taxpayer,” Engineering junior and Penn College Republicans president Peter Terpeluk said.
While “there are some issues where I’d like to see more progress being made,” College junior Ben Moskowitz is overall pleased with the president’s performance thus far.
A lot of the progress made under the Obama administration depends on “whether or not Republicans in the House are willing to work with Democrats to get something done, or whether they decide to spend the next one-and-a-half years trying to stymie Obama’s agenda just to get political points,” Moskowitz said.
Looking to become the 14th president to serve two full terms in office, Obama officially announced the start of his re-election campaign on Monday via a video on his website.
The campaign race this time around will “be much more substantive than the last one,” Terpeluk said, which will be to the benefit of the Republican ticket, because a deeper discussion about Obama’s policies will show that “they have been rejected by a majority of the American people.”
College sophomore Andrew Silverstein, the events director for the Penn Dems, thinks that “while there are still tremendous challenges facing the country … we’re moving in the correct direction,” he said.
“The soaring rhetoric of campaigning changes when you get to government,” Silverstein added.