SHARE

If Hillsdale stu­dents rep­re­sented the entire United States, retired neu­ro­surgeon Ben Carson might feel com­fortable about clinching the Repub­lican pres­i­dential nom­i­nation.

In a straw poll con­ducted last week, Hillsdale College Repub­licans asked stu­dents who attended the club’s “Screen on the Green” of the Sept. 16 GOP primary debate who they would vote for were the election the next day. Stu­dents cast their votes on paper ballots fol­lowing the debate on Gal­loway Residence’s lawn.

Carson took 23 percent of 144 votes. Sen. Marco Rubio, in second place, received 18 percent, and former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina was a close third at 17 percent.

“I think it’s very inter­esting that we’re skewed far away from the national polls,” College Repub­licans Pres­ident senior Sam Holdeman said.

In another straw poll con­ducted by the College Repub­licans at the Source on Sept. 1, Carson vied with Rubio for the stu­dents’ favor. Rubio beat Carson by only 1 percent of the 160 votes cast: 22 – 21.

“Since such a large group of stu­dents viewed the debate, I think the debate may have led to a change in ratings,” College Repub­licans Events Coor­di­nator sophomore Morgan Brown­field said. “However, there’s a lot of other important factors to con­sider, such as the portion of the student body that was polled. That may have influ­enced the ratings.”

“In both groups, there was a larger pop­u­lation of freshman and a larger pop­u­lation of those inter­ested in pol­itics,” Brown­field said, noting that the poll “wasn’t sci­en­tific.”

“Carson’s pop­u­larity… was a little bit of a sur­prise to me, but I guess it shouldn’t have been con­sid­ering he’s second in many national polls, and Hillsdale stu­dents don’t par­tic­u­larly like Trump,” said junior Chris Pudenz, who helped conduct the post-debate poll as head res­ident assistant of Gal­loway.

Trump received 4 percent of the votes in the Source poll and 3 percent of the votes in the poll at the debate.

Holdeman thought demo­graphics have some­thing to do with the dis­parity between Hillsdale’s poll and the national ones.

“Trump tends to appeal to an older crowd,” he said.

Brown­field had a dif­ferent take on the dis­parity.

“This likely has to do with the school’s emphasis on states­manship and pru­dence,” she said, implying stu­dents think that  Trump lacks these qual­ities.

Brown­field said the club uses student opinions for its oper­a­tions.

“We like to conduct these polls in order to see what the campus con­sensus is regarding Repub­lican can­di­dates so that we can better serve the student body by pos­sibly bringing those can­di­dates to campus or orga­nizing student workers on their cam­paigns,” she said.

More oppor­tunity for con­ver­sation and involvement might be coming soon. Holdeman antic­i­pates the College Repub­licans will conduct polls at some of the group’s upcoming events, and Brown­field said they’ll likely conduct one after the Oct. 28 debate.

“It’s important because it sparks campus con­ver­sation and involvement,” Brown­field said. “In addition, it gives stu­dents a capacity to engage with the ide­ology they’re learning in class.”