College Students: What Super Tuesday?

While many liberal politicians are counting on the participation of college-age voters to secure their election, it turns out that college students aren’t, on the whole, terribly interested in this year’s election cycle. At least not yet.

That’s what’s indicated by a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland. According to research by Maryland’s International Center for Media & the Public Agenda, students are pretty apathetic, despite earlier enthusiasm for President Barack Obama (back when he was a candidate in 2008). A news release by the school explained that,

The ICMPA study asked 200 students in an entry-level Media Literacy course to blog every three hours for three days before, during and after Super Tuesday about how they consumed political news. Students wrote time-stamped diary entries about when they tuned into election coverage as well as news about campaign issues (health care, the economy, etc.) — and when (if at all) they discussed politics with others.

Elia Powers, lead investigator for the Political Engagement study, noted that the study suggested that “Any political news students get is in a rush, often while they are in the midst of doing something else, and taken in very small doses.” As one student reported: “[I] quickly skimmed an article about on my Yahoo! home page about Romney’s chances of being the Republican nominee.” “In between classes, I checked Google news,” wrote another.

The study showed that the majority of students surveyed took less than half an hour reading or otherwise learning about the election during the Super Tuesday period.

As Susan Moeller, one of the researchers on the study, wrote, “college students today are apathetic about politics and seeking little news about the presidential election.”

Well perhaps. Another possibility, however, might be that students just don’t care about the GOP’s Super Tuesday contest this year because they’re not Republicans. Moeller pointed out that of the 200 students in the study, there were only 28 self-identified Republicans. If most of the students are Democrats why should they care about Super Tuesday? They’re Obama supporters; not spending a lot of time on Super Tuesday is just a rational way to focus on more important things.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer