"Young people were cynical about politics and we wanted to find out why."
That’s the reason why Harvard University’s Institute of Politics surveyed students at 253 colleges across America for more than five years, the results of which were released today at the Heritage Foundation.
What the institute found is that today’s college kids are "religious and tolerant"; they also want to disprove the stereotype that college students are "only concerned about listening to their iPods." Of particular note is that more than 75% of college students use Facebook.com.
The results show that Iraq is their No. 1 concern for the country and they give President Bush a 33% approval rating, lower than other opinion surveys. Nearly three-quarters (72%) believe the UN, not the U.S., should take the lead in solving international conflicts and crises.
On religion, 70% of college students say it’s important. Politically, 44% identify themselves as liberal and 16% as conservative. Students who range from 18-25 years old are considered to be the most liberal generation today. The top three issues that concern them are abortion, stem cell research, gay marriage, and also the response to Hurricane Katrina.
When asked who they would favor between a Hillary Clinton vs. John McCain as a possible 2008 scenario, 40% said Hillary and 40% said McCain. The rest were unsure.
While many college students call themselves "independents," the actuality is that they lean toward liberalism. Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow of the Century Foundation, says this group should be called "Indicrats" because the line between independents and Democrats has so much overlap and closeness.
Included in the press kit was "Ten Things Politicians Should Know About Students."
The Iraq War and U.S. foreign policy are more important and relevant to students than older Americans.
Students reject the Bush doctrine and are strongly in favor of a multilateral approach to foreign affairs.
Students are one of the more religious and spiritual groups in American politics today but most are wary to mix religion with politics.
The moral direction of the country is of great concern to students — especially to African Americans.
Democrats should not cede "issues of morality" to Republicans and Republicans should not focus solely on the "Big Three." (see below)
While most students agree that abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage (big three) are issues of morality, the list also includes current issues such as the government response to Hurricane Katrina and social issues like health care, education and the environment.
Young Republicans are nearly twice as optimistic about our country as young Democrats.
Facebook.com and social networking websites are immensely popular with college students and are ripe for political organizing.
"Democrat," "Republican," and "Independent" are outdated labels and tell us very little about political ideology-the battle for the White House will be among Religious Centrists.
There are millions of students; they care; they are involved, and they vote.
Click here to see where you fall on the political spectrum.