Students Evenly Split on Politics, Richmond Times-Dispatch

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Students evenly split on politics

Times-Dispatch Staff Writer
Monday, November 3, 2003

CHARLOTTESVILLE - The state's high school students are about evenly split in identifying themselves as Democrats or Republicans, according to a study done by the University of Virginia Center for Politics.


A survey last school year of more than 1,000 high school civics students in grades 9 through 12 found that 44 percent identified themselves as Republicans and 40 percent as Democrats.

A total of 16 percent said they were independent, with no leanings toward either political party. A total of 22 percent of the students identified themselves as conservative, 24 percent as liberal, and 34 percent as moderate; 13 percent did not know.

"Neither political party can claim a majority of support from Virginia's youngest citizens," said Ken Stroupe, chief of staff at the center.

"The positions that most of Virginia's young people have scoped out at this point in their lives...are highly personalized and do not uniformly reflect the straight party platforms of either the Democratic or Republican parties."

The students also offered a mix of conservative and liberal opinion on issues from abortion to affirmative action.

The study found that 76 percents of the students were in favor of keeping abortion legal, though 39 percent of that number said "abortion should be available but under stricter limits than it is now."

The study, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percent, also found:

  • 46 percent of the students "strongly oppose" affirmative-action policies that allow the use of race as a factor in college and university admissions; 25 percent said they were "somewhat" opposed.
  • 70 percent favor keeping the death penalty.
  • 45 percent feel that the government should "reduce spending on services" while 26 percent felt the government should "increase spending on services."
  • 73 percent say protecting the environment is "more important" compared with "maintaining jobs and our standard of living."

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