A majority of the Emory community supported former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to become the next U.S. president, a University-wide survey disseminated by the Wheel found. Approximately a third of respondents supported former Vice President Joe Biden.
The Wheel worked with Emory Data Science Club members Yichang Yang (22C) and Simran Mallik (23C) to design a questionnaire that was sent to all undergraduate and graduate students, collect the data and use statistical analysis software to create visualizations. The survey was open from 10 a.m. on March 4 to 10 p.m. on March 6.
At the time the poll was conducted, Biden, Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) were still in the race. The survey asked respondents to enter their first and second choice preferences for president.
The survey, which was sent by email, recorded 2,513 responses representing both undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and staff. Approximately 54% of respondents selected Sanders as their top choice for president, followed by Biden’s 30%. Approximately 16% of respondents stated they preferred neither candidate.
On April 8, Sanders dropped out of the presidential race, citing several primary losses to Biden after moderate candidates former Mayor of South Bend, In., Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Min) dropped out and endorsed Biden. Sanders endorsed Biden in an April 13 livestream.
“I cannot in good conscience continue to mount a campaign that cannot win and which would interfere with the important work required of all of us in this difficult hour,” Sanders said in a live-streamed video to supporters.
Among respondents who said Sanders is their first choice, 66% of them choose Warren for their second choice, 19% for Biden, 2% for Bloomberg and 9% did not prefer any candidate for their second choice. Of those who said Biden is their first choice, 30% said they prefer Warren as their second choice, 30% said Bloomberg, 20% said Sanders and 13% said they do not prefer any candidate for their second choice.
The survey asked each respondent to choose three of 14 issues that they deemed the most important in the upcoming election. The top three responses were health care, climate change and income inequality.
Respondents were also able to write an issue that was not listed, among which the economy and beating Trump in the 2020 presidential election were the two most popular answers.
In an emailed statement to the Wheel, Young Democrats of Emory member Alexis Greenblatt (21C) wrote that, while she supported Sanders, she believes unified support for Biden will be key to defeating President Donald Trump in November.
“We need to spread the message to progressive people everywhere that not voting for Biden is just as bad as voting for Trump,” Greenblatt said. “We need to vote all the way down the ballot to see change take place in our country.”
Other students who supported Sanders garnered a different view of the general election. Shawn Ali (21C), a member of the student groups Emory Young Democratic Socialist of America and Students for Bernie, stated he would vote for a third party or still vote for Sanders, whose name will still appear on the ballot for the remainder of the Democratic primary.
“The sexual assault allegations facing both of these men are quite credible,” Ali said. “For me that’s significant.”
Ali noted that he thinks liberals who will still vote for Biden are “very hypocritical,” as those who try to bring light to sexual assault allegations and “believe women” are voting for the “exact kind of person they rightfully condemn.”
Eleanor Partington (22C), a member of Her Voice Emory and Young Democrats of Emory who supported Warren, said that even though she doesn’t favor Biden she would still vote for him in the presidential election.
“I believe that Trump encourages racist rhetoric, incites hatred, threatens our right to free press and creates chaos in a way that Biden does not,” Partington said. “[Although Biden] represents a return to the status quo instead of progress.”
The survey also revealed differences in preference based on gender: 48% of respondents who identified as male preferred Sanders as their first choice, compared with 57.19% from respondents who identified as female and 80.95% from respondents who identified as gender queer or non-binary.
Of all respondents, the majority, or 59.7%, identified as white or Caucasian; 16.8% identified as Asian; 8.5% identified as black or African American; 7.4% identified as Hispanic or Latino; 6.1% identified as biracial and 1.4% identified as other.