LU News Archive

Annual survey of LU student opinions complete

Students in the fall 2014 Honors section of American Government conducted a survey of the political opinions of fellow students at Lamar University.  The survey, administered during the first two weeks in October, generated responses from 300 students.  Some general findings include; 55 percent of Lamar University students are not happy with the federal government, 72 percent of students believe the government does not listen to people like them, 79 percent of students believe the news media does not accurately portray political events, 80 percent of students believe the news media sensationalize stories, 42 percent of students plan to vote in November elections.

In addition to showing a high level of cynicism regarding government, politics and the news media, students expressed their opinion on issues such as gun control, abortion and the upcoming gubernatorial and congressional elections.

Gun Control

Thirty-seven percent of surveyed students said that gun laws should be stricter, while 44 percent said gun laws should not be stricter and 19 percent were undecided.  However, though many do not want stricter gun laws, students agree with certain firearm limits.  Regarding carrying a gun in public, 74 percent said that there should be a limit to the caliber of firearms carried in public, 53 percent said that if a firearm is carried in public, extra ammunition should not be carried, and 95 percent said that there should be some laws or requirements regarding who can purchase a gun.  Further, 68 percent of surveyed students said that firearms carried in public should be concealed and 55 percent felt safer if a gun carried in public was concealed.

Abortion

Sixty-one percent of surveyed students said that women should have the right to an abortion, 26 percent said that women should not have this right, while 13 percent were not sure.  The right to an abortion, though, is not viewed as unlimited.  Twenty-five percent said that abortion should be available under all circumstances, 51 percent said that abortion should be available but under certain conditions, 18 percent said that abortion should not be permitted under any circumstance, while seven percent were unsure of their position on this issue.  Students tend to think that abortion should be a personal decision, and not up to government to decide.  The overwhelming majority of survey students say that government should not be involved in making abortion decisions.  Seventy-six percent of students disagreed with the statement that government should have the right to determine eligibility for abortion.

Hot-Button Issues

Students had clear opinions on several hot-button issues.  Sixty-four percent agreed there was a gender pay gap in the workplace, 63 percent agreed that same sex couples should be able to marry, while 84 percent said that they would vote for a qualified woman for president.

New Media

Cynical about the news media, as well as about government, students say they rely for news on modern sources such as social media (33 percent) and the Internet (32 percent) more than traditional sources such as television (24 percent) or radio (three percent).  While students rely on social media and the internet, they tend to believe television.  Thirty-seven percent of students identify television as the most reliable news source compared to 26 percent for internet sources and three percent for social media.  Among individual news personalities, both Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) and Bill O’Reilly (The O’Reilly Factor) are notable news sources relied upon by at least 10 percent of surveyed students.

Off-Year Congressional Elections

With the elections less than a month away at the time of the survey, students were asked about their preference in the upcoming congressional elections.  Thirty-three percent of surveyed students wanted to see Republicans in charge of both House and Senate, 30 percent wanted to see Democrats take control of both chambers, six percent wanted the party balance to remain as it is, and 32 percent were not sure of which party they wanted to control Congress.  As an off-year election, Obama’s popularity may figure into people’s voting decision.  Only 24 percent of surveyed students agreed that Obama is doing a good job as president, while 48 percent think he is not doing a good job, and 28 percent are not sure.

Election for Governor

Regarding the upcoming Texas gubernatorial contest, 42 percent of students said they planned to vote, 22 percent said they would not vote, 25 percent said they were not sure, and 10 percent said they could not vote.  Using those who said they planned to vote as “Likely Voters,” the survey indicates that within a month of the gubernatorial election, most likely student voters remained undecided.  Of the 127 Likely Voters, 58 percent were not sure who they would vote for, 22 percent said they would vote for Republican Greg Abbott, and 19 percent said they would vote for Democrat Wendy Davis, with one percent saying they would vote for someone else.

Respondents

Ideologically, 35 percent of students identified themselves as conservative, 30 percent as moderate, and 22 percent as liberal (with the remainder as other).  Party identification matched this ideological distribution with 34 percent identifying as Republican, 31 percent as Independent, and 26 percent as Democrat, with the remainder not sure.  Fifty-eight percent of surveyed students were female.  Among all students who participated in the survey, 24 percent were African American, 14 percent were Hispanic, 54 percent were white of non-Hispanic origin, seven percent were Asian American; 18 percent of surveyed students were freshmen, 49 percent were sophomores, 26 percent were juniors, six percent were seniors and two percent were high school students taking Lamar University classes.