The Partisan Battle Over College Student Voting: An Analysis of Student Voting Behavior

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Phillip Ardoin Ph.D., Professor of American Political Institutions and Department Chair (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: We aim to test the hypothesis that college students provide Democratic candidates with greater electoral support and whether this varies among federal, state, and local elections. We also test whether college students mobilized by presidential campaigns are more likely to abstain from voting for state and local elections. To examine these questions, we employed OLS and difference- of-means tests to analyze the distribution of votes cast in competitive elections for the November 2008 elections in 86 precincts located on 42 college campuses across five states as compared to the distribution of votes cast in noncollege precincts. College precincts were identified by representatives from each community’s local Board of Elections. In line with conventional wisdom, the results of the analyses indicate Democratic candidates for federal offices do consistently receive greater electoral support from precincts located on college campuses as compared to noncollege precincts. However, the analyses of state and local elections highlight substantial variation in the level of support that Democratic candidates receive from precincts located on college campuses. Moreover, we found many college students in 2008 cast their ballots for Obama, but chose not to participate in lower-level elections. Republican fears regarding college students turning small towns on their heads via the ballot box are not supported by our analyses. On average, students vote more democratically than nonstudents but they are also more likely to simply choose not to vote for local candidates. By and large, they come to the polls to vote for national offices, not local ones.

Additional Information

Phillip J. Ardoin, C. Scott Bell, Michael M. Ragozzino (2015) "The Partisan Battle Over College Student Voting: An Analysis of Student Voting Behavior in Federal, State, and Local Elections" Social Science Quarterly, Volume 96, issue 5 [DOI: 10.1111/ssqu.12167] Version of Record Available from
Language: English
Date: 2015
Student voting, Partisan, Equalize Voter Rights Bill

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