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The Politics of Holy Cross

Part Three: Political Party

Published: Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Updated: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 09:09

This is the third part of a five-part series on the political culture of the College of the Holy Cross. Statistics cited in this article were obtained from data collected by the Spring 2004 Holy Cross Student Survey.

For the past two weeks, this column has started to explore the Holy Cross Student Survey (HCSS) on politics and current issues administered in the Spring 2004 semester by Professor Royce Singleton of the Sociology and Anthropology department and his Methods of Sociology class. The series began by addressing political participation both on and off campus. The survey found a positive correlation between political participation on campus and beyond Holy Cross, as well as a correlation between political participation on campus and interest in the government and political campaigns. This week, the issue of campus politics will be further examined by looking at political party preference at Holy Cross.

The HCSS began the exploration into political party preference by looking at where students stood on a political view scale ranging from extremely liberal to extremely conservative. Because we attend a Catholic college, some may expect to find predominantly conservative views on campus. Because liberal views are the trend for those under the age of 25, others may not be surprised to find that this instead is the case at Holy Cross. The data found that 45 percent of students identified themselves as liberal, 29 percent as conservative and 25 percent as "middle of the road." This is very different from the general population. The 2002 General Social Survey (GSS) found that 35 percent of Americans consider themselves conservative and 26 percent consider themselves liberal.

The political value findings at Holy Cross are reflected in political party affiliation as well. When asked to identify with a political party, 37 percent of students considered themselves Democrats, 29 percent considered themselves Independents and 28 percent considered themselves Republicans. The greater number of Democrats versus Republicans is consistent with the political view findings and with the political party breakdown found in the United States as a whole. However, the large percentage of Independents is particularly interesting. Greg Weston '05, co-host of the campus radio station WCHC's political talk show, "Holy Crossfire," believes that "the large number of independents indicates dissatisfaction with both political parties, which may result from the dissatisfaction with the recent presidential candidates."

Research on Independents has shown that not only do they usually lean towards either the Democratic or Republican Party, but they usually vote consistently with that preference. The HCSS took these so called "covert" Republicans and Democrats into consideration by asking those who identified themselves as Independent if they leaned towards one party or the other. Taking these numbers into consideration, the gap between campus Democrats and Republicans widens considerably. Adding these "independent partisans" shows that 58 percent of students support the Democratic Party, 36 percent support the Republican Party and 5 percent are Independents.

Political Science major Zach Bynoe '05 believes that these findings are to be expected from Holy Cross.

"I don't find it surprising, considering that most of the people here are from Massachusetts, which is one of the top liberal states," said Bynoe. "I also find from talking to people on campus that they agree with helping people who are less well off than themselves and support programs that promote more racial equality. So far it seems that the Democrats are pushing for policies that support these ideas."

The HCSS has shown that most of the campus is predominantly liberal and that most identify themselves with the Democratic Party. This will set the tone for next week's article on Holy Cross students' opinions on current issues and support for the government.

The HCSS results and interview questions from the Spring 2004 HCSS, as well as other semesters, can be viewed at:

www.holycross.edu/departments/socant/rsinglet/survey.htm

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