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Plurality of Princetonians support Bernie Sanders, ‘Prince’ poll shows

Most Updated Graphic, with 2percent election stats

Sanders led the pack, with 38.8 percent of respondents with U.S. home addresses listing him as their top-choice candidate.

Graphic Credit: Harsimran Makkad / The Daily Princetonian

Progressives fared well in The Daily Princetonian’s recent 2020 election poll, in which over half of respondents indicated they were “considering” casting a vote for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders or Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic Primary. On the other side of the spectrum, 88.2 percent of self-identifying conservatives reported feeling “somewhat” or “very” judged on campus for their beliefs.

The ‘Prince’ polled undergraduate students via Google Forms from Feb. 24 to noon on Feb. 28, asking about voting preferences, candidate favorability, potential general election matchups, and the general political climate on campus. The poll received 578 responses, accounting for approximately 11 percent of the undergraduate student body.


The survey listed billionaire Tom Steyer and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg as candidates, though both of them dropped out of the race in the days after the South Carolina primary.

Among respondents who either plan to vote in the Democratic primaries or “still have views on the matter” with home addresses in the United States, 38.8 percent selected Sanders as their top-choice candidate. The next most popular choice was Warren, at 22.6 percent of respondents — nearly double where her projected national vote-share stands now, according to data from RealClearPolitics.

Of the candidates in the so-called “moderate lane,” Buttigieg fared best, with 16.9 percent of these respondents selecting him as their top choice. (With Buttigieg’s exit, the Democratic field has narrowed to six candidates.)

Of the moderates still in contention, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar led the pack, with 7.4 percent of respondents listing her as their top choice. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg followed closely behind, at 6.7 percent.

Despite former Vice President Joe Biden polling second behind Sanders nationally — and winning nearly half of the popular vote in South Carolina’s primary on Saturday — only 4.5 percent of these respondents selected Biden as their top-choice candidate.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and businessman Tom Steyer were the top choice of 3.0 percent and 0.2 percent of these respondents, respectively.


Respondents were also asked which candidates they were “considering” voting for in the primary. The results to this question showed substantial overlap between Sanders and Warren voters, who garnered 62.0 percent and 60.3 percent, respectively. They were the two most considered candidates, followed by Buttigieg with 44.0 percent, Klobuchar with 29.5 percent, and Biden with 26.8 percent

Of respondents who selected Buttigieg as their top-choice candidate prior to his campaign’s suspension, 88.4 percent said they were “considering” at least one other candidate. Warren led the pack among these voters, with 45 percent of Buttigieg supporters also “considering” the Massachusetts senator. She was followed closely by Klobuchar and Biden — who were being “considered” by 40 percent and 37 percent of Buttigieg voters, respectively.

The single respondent who listed Steyer as their top-choice candidate did not list any other candidates they were considering.

For voters registered in New Jersey, nearly half of respondents listed Sanders as their top-choice candidate — 49.6 percent of respondents.

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Of respondents who are registered to vote in New Jersey, 16.0 percent listed Buttigieg as their top-choice candidate, in comparison to 14.5 percent for Warren.

Members of the Class of 2023 were the least likely to list Sanders as their top-choice candidate, while members of the Class of 2020 were the most likely to do so — a difference of 10.4 percentage points. First-years were also more likely than members of any other class year to list Buttigieg as their top choice, while seniors were the most likely group to prefer Biden. Class of 2021 members were most likely to list Warren as their top choice.

The “preferred candidate” responses remained fairly consistent across areas of study. When comparing top-choice responses between natural science and engineering students against humanities and social science students, the response rate for each candidate fell within one percentage point between the two groups.

Gabbard and Buttigieg received slight upward bumps among science and engineering students, while Klobuchar polled slightly better among humanities and social science students.

With Super Tuesday just a day away, the ‘Prince’ also calculated potential vote-shares for the 143 respondents registered in one of 14 states voting on March 3.

Of these students, 32.9 percent listed Sanders as their top-choice candidate in the primary; 24.5 percent selected Warren. Eighteen of these 143 students listed Buttigieg as their top choice.

The ‘Prince’ also asked respondents to list their “least favorite candidate running for the 2020 Democratic nomination.” Nearly half of respondents listed Bloomberg as their last choice. The next-most-listed candidates were Sanders and Gabbard, with 16.9 percent and 12.1 percent, respectively. Klobuchar received the fewest number of “last choice” considerations, with only six students considering her their least favorite choice.

Students were also asked to predict who they expected to win, regardless of their preferred candidate. Sanders supporters were confident, with 88.3 percent of respondents who considered him their top choice predicting his victory. Despite accounting for less than five percent of total respondents, 37.5 percent of Biden supporters predicted that the former Vice President would secure the nomination. Nobody predicted a Klobuchar or Gabbard victory, while 4.5 percent of respondents — and 9.5 percent of Buttigieg voters — predicted victory for the former mayor.

Students were also asked about political views on campus. Of 578 total respondents, 340 described the University’s student body as “somewhat liberal.” While 111 respondents considered the student body “very liberal” and 92 considered it  “moderate,” only six percent of respondents described the student body as “conservative.” Twenty-eight of these respondents referred to the student body as “somewhat conservative,” while seven considered campus “very conservative.”

Students were also asked to identify their political views in relation to the average American. Forty percent of students self-identified as “very liberal,” 34.4 percent identified as “somewhat liberal,” and 16.8 percent identified as “moderate.” 7.8 percent of students described themselves as “somewhat conservative,” while just six respondents considered themselves “very conservative.”

Among self-described conservatives, only 11.7 percent of respondents said they “do not feel whatsoever judged” for their political beliefs by other students.” Forty-nine percent of these students reported feeling “somewhat judged,” while 39.2 percent reported feeling “very judged.” For individuals who reported having a favorable view of President Donald Trump, 90 percent reported feeling “somewhat” or “very” judged — with over 45 percent feeling “very judged.”

Among self-described moderates, 47.4 percent of respondents reported feeling “somewhat” judged, while 12.4 percent said they felt “very judged.”

Overall, a majority of students reported not feeling whatsoever judged for their political beliefs. Among self-described liberals, only 3.3 percent of respondents reported feeling “very judged.”

The poll also asked students to mark whether they held a favorable, unfavorable, or neutral view of the seven Democratic candidates, Trump, and former President Barack Obama. To determine net favorability scores, the ‘Prince’ subtracted the percentage of “unfavorable” responses from the percentage of “favorable” responses.

At +73.7 percent, Obama enjoyed the highest net favorability. Of all of the 2020 candidates, Warren had the highest net favorability at +43.8 percent, followed by Sanders at +34.7 percent and Klobuchar at +12.9 percent.

Trump received the most negative net favorability rating, at -85.6 percent. Of the Democratic figures listed, Bloomberg was viewed most unfavorably, at -72.9 percent. Gabbard, Steyer, and Biden all received negative net favorability ratings of -64.3 percent, -58.5 percent, and -33.6 percent, respectively.

Some candidates’ net favorability ratings differed substantially between white respondents who do not identify as Hispanic or Latino and all other respondents.

Among non-Hispanic, non-Latino white respondents, Bloomberg had a -63.7 percent net favorability rating, a rating that fell to -81.9 percent among Latino and non-white respondents, coming within 10 percentage points of Trump’s net negative favorability. Sanders and Warren both experienced a favorability boost among Latino and non-white respondents, climbing from +25.4 percent and +39.2 percent among non-Hispanic, non-Latino whites to +48.4 percent and +54.8 percent among all other respondents.

While Biden experienced a slight decrease in favorability among Hispanic, Latino, and non-white students, Buttigieg and Klobuchar experienced two of the largest declines. Among non-Hispanic, non-Latino white students, Buttigieg and Klobuchar received net positive favorability ratings of +19.2 percent and +33.3 percent, respectively. For Hispanic, Latino, and non-white students, these ratings dipped below zero, with Buttigieg and Klobuchar receiving ratings of -10.1 percent and -4.5 percent, respectively.

Of the 509 students who responded “yes” or “maybe” when asked if they plan to vote in the 2020 general election, Trump recieved a net favorability rating of -86.6 percent

In a general election matchup between Trump and Buttigieg, 85.4 percent of these students said they would vote for Buttigieg; of all the Democratic candidates, the Indiana mayor received the highest percent of hypothetical matchup votes.

Among all candidates, Bloomberg received the smallest vote share in a hypothetical election against Trump, with 70.1 percent of respondents saying they would vote for Bloomberg.

A Gabbard-Trump general election yielded the highest percentage of “undecided” respondents, while all but 1.7 percent of respondents had their minds made up for a now-impossible Buttigieg-Trump matchup.

In a general-election matchup featuring Sanders or Warren as the Democratic nominee, 11.8 percent of respondents said they would vote for Trump — the highest percentage compared to matchups between Trump and all other candidates. Comparatively, only 8.5 percent of respondents said they would vote for Trump in a matchup against Bloomberg. However, 13.8 percent of respondents said they “would be unlikely to vote at all” in a Bloomberg-Trump election, compared to 4.2 percent and 2.2 percent of respondents for Sanders and Warren, respectively.

For the 69 students registered to vote in so-called swing states — which the ‘Prince’ defined as states that yielded a voting margin of less than 1.5 percent in the 2016 general election — over 95 percent of respondents said they would have voted for Buttigieg against Trump.

By the definition employed here, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin qualify as swing states.

In comparison, 91 percent of respondents registered to vote in swing states said they would vote for Biden, 90 percent for Warren, 81 percent for Sanders, and 72 percent for Bloomberg.