Vassar Today

The Vassar Vote

We’ve been amazed, in the past year, at what an exciting and engaging political season it’s been — and we were wondering what the experience has been like for current Vassar students. Were there holdouts on campus for Mike Gravel? A lonesome yet proud Huckabee contingent? Had Senator Obama, to paraphrase a New York Times headline, rocked the Vassar vote? To try to find out, we put together a small batch of questions in an online survey, then sent out an email to the entire student body on Friday, May 16, inviting them to participate. (To refresh your memory, McCain was already the presumptive Republican nominee that week, while the competition on the Democratic side was as yet unresolved.)

We were delighted when the responses started pouring in — a hundred almost immediately, it seemed, 387 in total. Was this instantaneous response due to sheer enthusiasm? Or did it have something to do with reading period? We’ll never know for sure, but we do think the responses were interesting. We present a slice of them here (along with the important caveat that we are magazine editors, not statisticians, so the following should be taken with a grain of salt). Eager for more? Click here to see the full, unedited results of our survey at And definitely take a look at “Joining the Conversation,” an essay by Misc political columnist Allison Good ‘09.

And don’t forget to vote!

— The Editors

Are you registered to vote?

No, and I do not plan to do so: 2%
Not right now, but I plan to register in time to vote in November: 8%
Yes: 90%

Do you plan to vote in November’s presidential election?

No: 3%
Not sure yet: 2%
Yes: 95%

Have you voted in a presidential election before?

74% No (not old enough)
24% Yes
2% No (other reason)

  • “I am not a U.S. citizen yet.”
  • “I was a moron and didn’t register in time for 2004 even though I was old enough, but my state went Democrat anyway, so I somehow feel okay about it.”
  • “Not old enough, and I don’t believe in electoral politics for change.”

How have you participated in election-related activities on campus?

“I attended the Vassar Democrats forum for the presidential candidates, I have stickers and a sign on my door, and I helped watch the polls at a local polling station on Super Tuesday.”

“I have spoken to people about Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party presidential candidate.”

“No. Because everything here is for Obama and I'm voting for McCain.”

“Talking up Ron Paul.”

Where have you gotten most of your information about the candidates?

35% Internet
24% Newspapers / Magazines
19% Word of Mouth
16% Television
2% Campus Organization
2% Class
1% Books
1% Other

  • “NPR.”
  • “I am involved in an Obama blog — many people post stories from various sources.”
  • “Parents.”
  • “The Miscellany News.”

Do you feel that there is a diverse range of political views at Vassar? Are you comfortable voicing your opinion?

75% No / Comfortable
11% No / Uncomfortable
7% Yes / Comfortable
2% Yes / Uncomfortable
5% Other

  • “Most people are liberal, but on specific issues there are a variety of opinions.”
  • “There needs to be a vibrant radical left which openly and shamelessly espouses the anarchist and communist ideals.”
  • “I think if I were a conservative I’d feel very uncomfortable.”
  • “There are some people who aren’t liberal. I’m not one of them.”

Have you participated in any off-campus programs or events related to the election? If so, what have you done?

“Canvassing and helping out with the Obama campaign in New York, Maryland, Virginia, and Rhode Island.”

“I became a notary public in Vermont so I can register people to vote.”

“I donated $10 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

“McCain and Clinton rallies before primary.”

“Making calls for Obama campaign on Super Tuesday.”

If your home state had its primary, did you vote in it? Or did you register to vote here in New York?

39% Home state with absentee ballot
33% Did not vote in home state primary
9% From New York and voted
5% Went home to vote in primary
2% From another state, but registered and voted in New York
1% Home state hasn’t had primary yet
11% Other

  • “My party didn’t hold primaries.”
  • “I registered for an absentee ballot, but never received it.”
  • “I would love to vote, but I can’t.”
  • “I honestly could not make up my mind.”
  • “My home state had its delegates taken away.”

Click here to see the full, unedited results of our survey — all 13 questions, all 387 student responses — at