Obama leads in straw poll

By David Servatius, Staff Writer

U students overwhelmingly support Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama, but they like incumbent Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. even more.

The Hinckley Institute of Politics announced the results of its 2008 straw poll of U students on Monday. In addition to finding high levels of support for Obama and Huntsman on campus, the poll also found that students prefer to see Democrats sent to the Capitol this fall.

“Most of our Independents seem to be leaning Democratic, except for when it comes to Huntsman, whom they happily support,” Hinckley Institute of Politics Director Kirk Jowers said.

In the presidential race, Obama pulled 59 percent of the votes cast in the straw poll, compared to Republican Sen. John McCain’s 32 percent8212;consistent with Obama’s popularity with the youth vote nationwide. In the gubernatorial contest, Huntsman trounced challenger Bob Springmeyer by a score of 67 to 19 percent.

About 61 percent of respondents wanted to see Democrats elected to the Utah State House of Representatives this year, with 39 percent wanting the Republican dominance of that body to continue.

This is the Hinckley Institute’s second straw poll. The first was taken last fall as the presidential primary campaign got underway.

This year’s poll was set up so students could vote either online or by paper ballot. Votes were cast all last week.

According to Hinckley Institute assistant and poll coordinator Marko Mijic, the majority of the 1,185 total votes were cast online. About a dozen volunteers took paper ballots to classes and collected them throughout the week.

Mijic said that this year’s vote is much more of a representative sample of the entire campus population than last year’s8212;something he attributes to the distribution of a campus-wide e-mail alert announcing the poll.

“We had graduate students participate, upper campus and lower campus were equally involved and a lot of students from health sciences voted,” he said.

After casting her ballot early last week, math senior Yvonne Nkwen-Tamo predicted Springmeyer’s defeat, saying lack of name recognition was going to hurt his chances.

“I am pretty involved in this election this year and aware of most of the candidates,” she said. “I didn’t even know who Bob Springmeyer was. I’ve never heard of him.”

Like Nkwen-Tamo, after casting her ballot Thursday, first year pharmacy student Lisa Angelos said she had never heard of Springmeyer, but said she was impressed with the poll and its availability online.

“The survey was succinct and not very time consuming, both big positives as far as participation goes,” Angelos said.

Mijic said the poll was a good way to find out what students are thinking about the various races with about a month to go until the general election and an effective way of engaging people in the process and getting as many as possible registered to vote.

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