Primary Vote 2020!

By Paul A. Djupe

2020 is in full effect! Who do Denisonians support? Drawing on data from our survey of 500 students that closed last Monday, the campus is almost all Democratic – only 16 percent would not participate in the Democratic primary. Among them, Sanders has a plurality of the intended vote (27%), which looks nothing at all like last spring’s vote intentions when Biden was on top with the same level of support. The bars are shaded by ideology (darker = more liberal) and it’s clear that Warren and Sanders are splitting the more liberal vote on campus. The few Biden supporters are somewhat more moderate.

Holy cow can a lot change in politics in a week! The race has collapsed to just two candidates: Biden and Sanders – and it is not at all clear just how the Denison vote has shifted since the survey closed and Warren, Bloomberg, Klobuchar, and Buttigieg dropped out. If those voters coalesce behind Biden, he easily gets a majority support, so the key question is does Sanders have a ceiling of support or do others flock to the “not me, us” candidate?

Nationally, Biden has rocketed to majority support in most polls and the 538 forecast reflects that – he has jumped from almost no shot to a 7 in 8 chance of winning the nomination (as of 3/7/2020).

Bernie’s chances plummeted from nearly a 50/50 shot to a 1 in 50 shot in that week as the divided field departed and united behind Biden. There are rumors that President Obama played a role in bringing the party together behind his Vice President.

Most of the campus is Democratic or at least leans Democratic, but the Democratic Party is a diverse group of folks that cover a wide range of the ideological spectrum. How does vote support look across the partisan range? The figure below maps that, highlighting that strong Democrats and Democrats are in the progressive wing of the party, split between Warren and Sanders. Sanders has broader appeal in the student body, with the plurality of even independent voters. It’s interesting to see Republican identifiers expressing a preference in the Democratic nomination.

As was true earlier in the 2020 nomination process, there is still a gender gap in candidate support. Women are 4 times as likely to support Warren than men. Support for Sanders is the same among men and women while men, at the time of the survey, were more likely to support Biden. What women who supported Warren do with their vote is a question of great national interest at the moment. Warren has notably not endorsed a candidate yet, but she has been vocal about the toxicity of some Sanders supporters, calling out their “organized nastiness” and “bullying.”

Pete Buttigieg made history as the first openly gay candidate to seek a presidential nomination and to win a state nomination contest (Iowa). Did Denison’s LGBT community support him at higher levels? I had to combine a bunch of different groups to have enough sample size to analyze, so take this with a grain of salt, but the answer appears to be no. Hetero students supported Pete at slightly higher levels than non-hetero students. There clearly was not a groundswell for the moderate mayor of South Bend and non-hetero students are voting with their apparent ideologies.

There’s still a lot of time and contests to go in the presidential nomination process, so a lot can change. We’ll be here offering additional insight into how Denisonians are thinking about relevant ideas and actors going forward. We’ll be addressing: How interested are Denisonians in the process? What do Denisonians think about socialism? How much do students approve of the job Trump is doing? Stay tuned.

Paul A. Djupe is a local cyclist who coincidentally has taught social science research methods at Denison for millenia. He started a few years ago in a bid to subsidize collective action.

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