It’s safe to say that when the nation awoke on November 9th to the news that Donald Trump had been elected president, there was a good deal of shock. No matter which candidate they supported, most individuals were surprised that Trump emerged victorious. However, if the country had paid attention to the poll that My College Options conducted, it would have seen this coming down the proverbial pike.
Indeed, for the third election cycle in a row, we reached out to high school students to see who they would vote for if eligible. And, for the third time, our findings mirrored the national election results. That’s right - students aged 14-18 selected Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton and other 3rd party candidates by a 12-point margin (though more than one third of those polled said they would have abstained from voting this year).
Our study was conducted in conjunction with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. Final presidential ballots were mailed to nearly 1,200 schools across the country in late September. And we ultimately heard from over 65,000 students. The responses were anonymous and the survey pool was representative of the gender, race and various high school demographics (public/private, income level, etc.) found throughout the United States.
Here are our top findings (from students overall, not just first-time voters):
- Voted For: Trump (33%), Clinton (21%), third-party candidate (9%), write-in candidate (4%), "I would choose not to vote in this election" (31%), no answer (2%)
- Obama Job Approval: approve (42%), disapprove (24%), no opinion (28%), no answer (6%)
- Direction of Country — Positive: yes (7%), no (54%), I don’t know (34%), no answer (6%)
- Political Engagement: very engaged (13%), somewhat engaged (42%), not very engaged (25%), not at all engaged (13%), no answer (6%)
- Top Issues: education (42%), economy (38%), gun rights (27%), health care (19%)
- Top News Sources: cable news (61%), social media sites (46%), parents (44%), online news (41%)
The significance of this poll should not be underestimated. Certainly, surveys like this allow students to join in the national conversation. And, they help spark an interest in and stress the importance of actively participating in our democracy.
Moreover, the results themselves highlight what young people in this country both worry about and what they value. It would serve us well to pay attention. After all, they will soon join the electorate and emerge as vital voices and voting blocs.
To learn more about our methodology and to read the poll results in full, visit our press release: