Libertarian candidate leads GOP nominee by 1 point at U.Va.

Original: The Cavalier Daily November 7, 2016

University student support for Libertarian Gary Johnson exceeds support for Donald Trump, according to a poll conducted by The Cavalier Daily in partnership with a faculty advisory committee and the Center for Survey Research.

In a four-way race, approximately 9 percent of respondents support Johnson, while 8 percent support Trump. An overwhelming 64 percent of students support Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Cameron Springer, president of Hoos for Gary Johnson and third-year Engineering student, said he did not find the poll results surprising.

“I’m not particularly surprised about that, if you look at Gary Johnson’s numbers across millennials he beats Trump pretty handily, not just at U.Va., but nationally,” Springer said. “I would say that it speaks to the fact that young people don’t really share a whole lot with Trump.”

Springer — who was also a participant in the poll — said he would never be able to make the choice between Trump or Clinton because he thinks their policies are both bad and fiscally irresponsible.

“Somebody asked me the other day and said, ‘If somebody held a gun to your head, who would you vote for — Trump or Hillary?’ and I said, ‘You’d have to pull the trigger,” Springer said.

However, Springer said voting is very important even if the vote is for someone who the voter knows will not win. He said he hopes his vote for Johnson will send a message to major parties that they cannot keep putting bad candidates forward and expecting millennials to line up to vote because they are “scared of the other side.”

“Even if we vote for people who aren’t going to win, we express our voice through our vote even if that vote is largely a protest, as mine seems that it will be,” Springer said. “Not voting means that nobody cares what you think because you didn’t say it.”

Another poll participant, third-year Commerce student McLain Faett, cast his absentee ballot for Johnson a few weeks ago and said he is starting to have regrets. Faett — along with 25 percent of the University population — does not feel strong ties to either the Democratic or Republican party.

“A couple weeks ago I was worried I would be throwing away my vote voting for Hillary because she was a shoo-in to win so I might as well express my ideals, but now it’s such a tight race it’s kind of the opposite,” Faett said. “I’m wishing I wouldn’t have thrown away my vote for Gary Johnson because now it would have been a viable vote for Clinton.”

Faett said he thinks it is important to vote but that he also believes choosing not to vote is just a vote of no confidence.

“I don’t think that one should always be pressured to vote,” Faett said. ”But in general if you feel strongly for a candidate and you’re going to sit at home and write a blog post instead of actually going to vote, I think that’s kind of hypocritical. The act of voting is much more important than sharing things on social media.”

Politics lecturer Carah Ong-Whaley found the higher support for Johnson over Trump reflective of the divisions among Republicans on Grounds.

“One plausible explanation is the division on Grounds among Republicans regarding supporting their party’s nominee,” Ong-Whaley said in an email statement.

On Oct. 11, the College Republicans revoked their endorsement of Trump.

Ong-Whaley also suggested the poll might not accurately reflect support for Trump.

“Another plausible explanation is that [The Cavalier Daily’s] sample doesn’t truly capture support for Trump on Grounds,” Ong-Whaley said. “If the responses you received from males and from Republicans weren’t truly representative of the broader universe of males and Republicans on Grounds, this could affect the results.”

According to the poll, 10 percent of students said they did not know whom to vote for, and 3 percent said they wouldn’t vote at all. Ong-Whaley said she thinks there will be more non-voters on Grounds than what the poll reflected, as Census Bureau data suggests turnout among 18 to 29-year-olds was less than 50 percent in 2008.

“Some polling among 18-29 year-olds for this election suggests turnout might compare to 2008,” Ong-Whaley said.

For more information on polling methodology, click here.