Voting Behavior Among College Students

  • Words 1392
  • Pages 3
Download PDF

Voting behavior is a form of political behavior. Understanding voters’ behavior can explain how and why decisions were made either by public decision-makers, which has been a central concern for political scientists Goldman (2006), or by the electorate. To interpret voting behavior both political science and psychology expertise were necessary and therefore the field of political psychology emerged. Political psychology researchers study ways in which affective influence may help voters make more informed voting choices, with some proposing that affect may explain how the electorates make informed political choices in spite of low overall levels of political attentiveness and sophistication.

To make inferences and predictions about behavior concerning a voting decision, certain factors such as gender, race, culture or religion must be considered. Moreover, key public influences include the role of emotions, political socialization, tolerance of diversity of political views and the media. The effect of these influences on voting behavior is best understood through theories on the formation of attitude, beliefs, schema, knowledge structures and the practice of information processing.

Click to get a unique essay

Our writers can write you a new plagiarism-free essay on any topic

For example, surveys from different countries indicate that people are generally happier in individualistic cultures where they have rights such as the right to vote (Diener, 2000). The degree, to which voting decision is affected by internal processing systems of political information and external influences, alters the quality of making truly democratic decisions (Andreadis & Chadjipadelis 2005).

Juma’, (2011) explained that voting behavior are set of attitudes and beliefs towards elections at the national as well as, at the local level. They are basically three source political scientist look at in order to analyze why people or voter behave the way they do, why they vote the way they do and why they chose the parties that they do;

  • looking at the result of the election (seeing whose voting for what or women/men voting or generation voting for what)
  • survey work ahead
  • doing some studies of political socialization which is the process by which people gain their political attitudes, political opinions of growing up process.

Studies disclosed that exposure to informative media coverage and political advertising significantly influenced the vote choice of the electorates. David (2016), reported that the likelihood of voting for celebrity candidates for President and Vice President was associated with the voters education, television exposure and residence in the capital city. He further reported that celebrity endorsements also influenced the candidate preference of a presidentiable and vice presidentiable. Religion was also viewed as an influencing factor in the voter’s decision. Using multinomial logistic regression analysis, a study indicated that religion affiliation and the degree of an individual’s behavior and beliefs were key predictors of vote choice in a presidential election.

In 2006, a study made by Macapagal using a three-way ANOVA, revealed that the respondents perceived political candidates positively. The females and respondents from the lower social classes showed a more favorable perception of politicians. It also showed that respondents believed that female politicians were more attractive, emotional, intelligent and religious but male politicians were more corrupt. There were also findings that females tended to view female politicians more positively.

Similarly in the Philippines, the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER) on the other hand, used Factor Analysis to identify factor groups that determine the voting behavior of the Filipino electorate. They are the following: the benefit factor (characteristics that can be of benefit to the voter), political machinery, popularity and endorsement of traditional networks.

Approximately, one month before the 2014 election in Taipei, survey participants were asked about their party identification, explicit political party preference, ethnic identity and voting intention. With the use of hierarchical regression analysis, results showed that the impact of implicit preferences on voting appeared to be present across different cultures; that voters evaluate candidates from their ethnic group more favorably than those of other ethnic groups.

Additionally, significant survey data indicates that civic disengagement is especially pronounced among our nation’s youth. As Putnam (2000) observed, there is a “generation gap in civic engagement,” with each generation accelerating “a treacherous rip current” of civic disengagement. Americans growing up in recent decades vote less often than their elders, pay less attention to politics, and show lower levels of social trust and knowledge of politics (Bennett and Craig 1997; Keeter et al. 2002).

In the United States of America, the National Association of Secretaries of State’s New Millennium Project (1999) studied the political attitudes of 15-24 year-olds and dramatically concluded, “America is in danger of developing a permanent non-voting class”. The study argued that young people lack interest, trust, and knowledge about American politics, politicians, and public life—and are generally cynical about America’s future.

Besides, Individuals with more educational attainment vote at higher rates. In fact, according to Nie, Junn, and Stehlik-Barry (1996), this is “the best documented finding in American political behavior research.” To some extent, educational attainment may be a proxy for social status or personal motivation and ability, but some careful studies find that education actually boosts turnout (Dee, 2003; Sondheimer & Green, 2010).

Also, examining this group of citizens has proven to be difficult because of the vast differences in walks of life that one can find among them. Some young adults are getting married, some of them have children, some are single parents, some are attending college, others are practicing a trade, while still others are unemployed. Research has proven that those who vote once have a much higher likelihood of voting again, and so the impact a university can have on a college student’s potential to participate in democracy through voting (Longo & Meyer, 2006).

In addition, when young adults gained the right to vote , those with some college experience aged 18-29 participated in the election at an impressive rate of 72.5 percent; however, this rate has consistently fallen until today, where the most recent data from the 2012 presidential election presents a mere 55.9 percent participation rate among those with some college experience (CIRCLE, 2013). Universities pride themselves on being the center of ideas and intellectual exchange, and one would assume that if this were true, those who attend said universities would be among the most involved citizens.

One of the landmark studies on student opinion in regards to politics was College Students Talk Politics which was published in 1993. This study laid the basis for what is perceived to be the typical view that college students view politics as “individualistic, divisive, negative, and often counterproductive to the ills of society” and other studies to say that “this generation of college students is cynical and distrustful of government, apathetic and indifferent toward public affairs, unknowledgeable about politics, self-centered, and generally unconcerned with society” (Niemi & Hanmer, 2010).

If college students in the 1990’s were characterized by political pessimism, apathy, and conceit then today’s students can be characterized as optimistic, caring, and community minded. In 2006, the Associated Press released a poll that found that those under the age of 30 were 19 percent more likely to trust that the government was spending money wisely when it came to funds allocated for the renewal and cleaning of the Gulf Coast than all other age groups.

Four other surveys have indicated a reversal in the trend of apathy in that students are “more interested in politics, believed voting was a civic duty, and were less cynical and apathetic” (Niemi & Hanmer, 2010). Even more telling was a Harvard poll which found that 64 percent of students expected to be more politically involved than their parents.

Most studies and research are finding that students today are focusing more of their efforts locally. Rather than getting caught up in the fervor of presidential elections, students prefer, and are choosing to, make differences in their communities rather than spending their energy in what they see as largely irrelevant elections.

In 2001, three in four graduated high school students reported having volunteered during their time in high school, an increase of 13 percent over the rate reported in 1976 (Longo & Meyer, 2006). Further, 2005 surveys showed that students were planning to volunteer during their college years at a rate higher than ever had previously been reported. This dissonance has baffled researchers who have found that college students today have a paradoxical combination of moral idealism and optimism and political cynicism (Longo & Meyer, 2006). Students, not trusting politicians to get the job done, have decided to put matters into their own hands and turn to community service as their alternative to politics.


We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy.