Surveys completed by 668 members of the HBS student body last week revealed that President Barack Obama had the support of 65% of the student community. Challenger Mitt Romney captured 32% of the vote while the remainder said they supported a third-party candidate, were unsure, or did not plan to vote.
Students completed two different polls, an initial one asking only who students intended to vote for and whether their vote had changed in the last month, and an expanded second poll asking those two questions as well as sex, party affiliation, and the student’s year.
There were broad consistencies between the data collected in the two polls, the former of which was completed by 494 students, the latter by 168. The President captured 63% of the first 494 votes and 68% of the remaining 168, leaving him with 65% of the total.
The convincing margin of victory is explained in part by two major demographic factors the President had in his favor against one that would, on a national level, trend in favor of his opponent.
First, more than twice as many students at HBS identified as Democrats than did those identifying as Republicans. Of respondents to the second poll, 34% of students identified as Democrats versus 15% who identified as Republicans. 26% identified themselves as independents, 24% as international students, and the remaining 1% preferred not to say.
Second, the president enjoyed overwhelming support among HBS’ international student body. 83% of these responders chose Obama over Romney. Approximately 24% of all respondents to the second poll were international students. Among only eligible American voters, Obama held a 45%-26% advantage over Romney.
Despite these advantages, the HBS student body continues to skew male, a demographic group that national polling suggests prefers Romney. 60% of respondents to the second poll were men, consistent with the broader male-female composition of the student body.
The Harbus’ polling service does not permit us to identify preferences across individual categories, but if we assume that all Democrat voters chose Obama, and we know that 83% of non-eligible international voters did as well, that suggests that 64% of Independent voters at HBS favored Obama. Again, this finding is speculative, but we believe the number, if not exact, is highly representative of HBS Independent voters.
While the overwhelming majority of voters at HBS decided on their choice of candidate over the summer, 8% of all respondents indicated they had changed their choice of candidate over the last month.
The Harbus conducted a far more limited survey of student sentiment in late August/early September. At the time, 57% of voters indicated they supported Obama, 34% supported Romney, and 9% were undecided.
That poll was conducted exclusively among EC students at HBS, while our latest survey included RCs and ECs. In the second poll, ECs contributed 62% of all responses, perhaps due in part to poll fatigue resulting from Field 2’s product development dash week in the RC year.