Do Denisonians Approve of Adam Weinberg?

By Will Duquette

Political leaders depend on core political constituencies and, presumably, depend on those well-served by the government to hold on to power. That’s interesting to think about in the context of a college president. It is not quite the same, given that there are no political parties to contest elections for college president. But I’ll bet that those outside the political mainstream tend to have highly specific and divergent ideas for how society should function and as a result like their college administration less.

How has Weinberg’s approval changed over the last five years?

As 127 has repeatedly found, Weinberg is a genuinely popular school president. However, he is less popular than he used to be. In the spring of 2017, he had an approval rating of 77.7%, which is astronomically high. However, his approval rating saw a significant decrease by spring 2020 (just before the pandemic), which coincides with the cancellation of Posse at Denison, for which Weinberg received some pushback. However, his approval increased dramatically at the start of Covid, reaching an all-time high of almost 80% (79.8%). That is not surprising because, at that point, Covid was such an unknown, and students viewed his leadership as a steady hand guiding us through the situation. But as the year progressed, his approval rating began to drop steadily because students, obviously to different degrees, were becoming impatient with the Covid restrictions that were in place on campus, which would explain the drop from the high in the fall of 2020. Additionally, 2022 is when the new lacrosse field was announced. Weinberg might have received blame for this, despite it not being his fault. Nevertheless, there was significant pushback from students who (correctly) labeled it a waste of space and money. But by October 2022, his approval rating has started to climb again.

How do different political groups view Weinberg?

We have previously seen that Weinberg is a popular president. But is he popular with everyone? He seems to be popular with those who identify as Democrat and Republican. Still, he is not as popular with the members of the Democratic and Republican parties who are more extreme in their views. Although the Strong Democrats view Weinberg more favorably than the Strong Republicans (the average feeling among Strong Republicans is under 50), it is still lower for both groups than their less extreme brethren. This might suggest that Weinberg is a middle-ground leader. He is not known for taking extreme stances on issues, which might appeal to those who do not feel as strongly about their beliefs. Interestingly, Independent students view Weinberg slightly more negatively than the middle-ground Democrats and Republicans. Despite this, that drop is far less significant than the decrease seen for strong Democrats and Republicans.

It seems like students who believe that they are receiving the most support Adam Weinberg the most. This is evident because Democratic students who support the lacrosse field support Weinberg the most. Interestingly, Republican students who like the lacrosse field also see the same rate (if not slightly more) of increase as the Democrats. It seems that those who believe that a service or facility that they approve of is being provided support our President more. This makes sense given that most people claim to support who they believe is best for the community but instead support who is best for their self-interest.

Weinberg is a popular school president and seems to have consistent student support. Even at his lowest moment, his approval ratings did not drop below 60%. But the low approval among the extreme groups could cause some cracks in his support if this displeasure in his leadership metastasizes. Leaders face a delicate balance between doing what they believe is right and satisfying their constituents. Although Denison students do not directly elect President Weinberg, I like to think, but in practice do not believe, that our views of the Denison Administration matter. But if we work under the assumption that students’ opinions of the administration matter, then Weinberg will need to pander to the more extreme groups of the study body if those groups increase in size. Some may argue that this is a fundamental problem with democracy, but in my estimation, it allows public officials to be held accountable.

Will Duquette is starting work in June. He hopes to travel to an area that will excite him.

2 Comments Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s