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Survey of Farmer Students Suggests Light Response to Presidential Campaign Youth Vote Push

November 2012

Significant time and money spent by both Presidential campaigns to drive youth voter turnout in Ohio had a limited impact, according to a new survey of students at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business (Ohio), one of the top 10 ranked public undergraduate business programs in the country. When asked if they were more or less likely to vote in the upcoming election as a result of the barrage of social media, advertising, and registration initiatives, a majority of the 18 to 22 year old respondents (56 percent) said it had no impact on them, while 37 percent indicated they were more likely to vote and only 7 percent said they were less likely to vote.

When asked what media had the most influence on their knowledge of the issues in the campaign, 29 percent said Fox News, 22 percent said social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and 12 percent said MSNBC. Among those who said social media had the greatest influence on their knowledge about the campaign, more than half reported that youth-focused campaigning and advertising had made them more likely to vote. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report were also listed as media resources, but only received responses of 7 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

“It’s interesting that students who reported social media as being the most important source of information were also the most likely to report that the onslaught of political efforts in Ohio had increased their odds of voting,” commented Dr. William Even, professor of economics at the Farmer School of Business. “The more traditional news outlets appear to have a smaller effect, which makes it clear that social media is increasingly important in shaping political outcomes.” Even noted that social media also probably increases the importance of grassroots views since, compared to traditional media, the postings are more likely to be driven by users than by political campaigns.

Amidst the campaign debate on outsourcing and jobs moving to China and other lower wage countries, an overwhelming 79 percent of the students said greater globalization was good for job creation and the U.S. economy. But when asked about why Ohio’s unemployment rate is better than the national average, almost half of the respondents – 46 percent – said it was due to a rebound among small businesses.

“The strong support for globalization expressed by the students is probably not typical in Ohio, where many believe that a good deal of the manufacturing employment has been lost to foreign competition,” said Dr. Even. “I think that these students have been sensitized to the importance of globalization through their education and they understand that, while some people lose with globalization, on net, globalization creates more winners than losers.”

Students were positive about Ohio’s out-sized influence on the outcome of the election, with 54 percent saying it’s a good thing and only 26 percent viewing it as a negative. Additionally, when asked what will happen to jobs and the economy once the uncertainty of the Presidential election has passed, respondents were optimistic, with 38 percent saying there would be more jobs and a better economy while 31 percent indicated the job situation and economy would remain the same.

The online survey was fielded from October 19 to October 25, 2012 and had 338 respondents. Participants were between 18 and 22 years old and all were undergraduate business majors at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business.

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