A conservative scholar argues that Republicans should not simply abandon colleges and universities over loud and seemingly impenetrable woke politics.
His reason: college students are not as left-wing as conservatives believe.
Writing this week at RealClearEducation.com site, Sam Abrams, a political science professor at Sarah Lawrence College and a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, argued that “the GOP shouldn’t write off the campus population.”
Abrams’ basis for that was recent polls that indicated “college students are not extremely liberal.”
Accordingly, Republicans “need to take another look at the collegiate demographic” because younger Americans with college degrees are “more civic-minded and engaged” than those without them, and also they are “the members of the electorate most likely to help win elections.”
“Though left-wing students make the most noise, most students on campus today identify somewhere in the political center,” Abrams maintained.
He noted one survey, among many, that found just 32 percent of college students identify as liberal, while 21 percent claim to be conservatives.
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The rest, and the biggest chunk, call themselves moderates, said Abrams.
“Proportionally, there may be more liberals on college campuses than in the national population, but even so, the discrepancy is not large,” he continued. For example, a Gallup organization poll last year found that on average, 37 percent of Americans described their political views as moderate, 36 percent as conservative, and 25 percent as liberal.
“There are certainly fewer conservatives and more liberals on college and university campuses, but there is no overwhelming liberal monolith – not with a large, presumably persuadable group residing in the middle,” Abrams asserted.
GOP leaders must understand that college degree-holders are more politically active than the general U.S. population, Abrams said. By nearly 2-to-1 margins, college graduates describe themselves as more “politically engaged” and more likely to vote in November than those who have no degree or are not attending college.
Meanwhile, 63 percent of college grads “closely follow national politics,” while only 46 percent of non-degree holders do, according to Abrams.
“These trends hold true in other areas,” he added.
According to Abrams, college graduates, again by nearly double the rate, are more likely to:
- Have participated in a government, political, or issue-related organization
- Donated money to a political campaign or cause,
- Posted political content online, or participated in rallies or demonstrations
- Volunteered on a political campaign for a candidate or an issue
On the other hand, among non-degree holders, 31 percent say politics is irrelevant to their lives.
“It’s clear, then, that American colleges and universities significantly influence the nation’s political environment,” Abrams noted. “Accordingly, Republicans should try to build a greater presence on campuses, not abandon these cohorts to the Left.”
“College students remain fairly diverse in their views, and young degree-holders are notably civically engaged. With crucial elections fast approaching, Republicans need to recognize that their party can benefit from cultivating a more active and engaged group of young citizens,” he concluded.
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