JMU & the 2012 Presidential Race

On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of this week, I’ve visited three different off-campus JMU apartment complexes in Harrisonburg.  Part of the purpose in doing so was to assess the opinions of the students regarding the 2012 presidential election.  The general theory is that JMU students who registered to vote in Harrisonburg in 2008 supported Barack Obama by huge margins and helped him to capture the city last time.

For a bit of historical perspective, in the 2004 presidential election, when students had to vote in their hometowns rather than at their college or university, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections about 11,000 people voted in Harrisonburg.  George W. Bush won about 6,100 or 55.9%.  In 2008, John McCain had slightly less votes than Bush did four years prior, but only took 41.2% as around 14,500 people voted in the city. While about 1,000 more people voted in Harrisonburg in 2004 as they did in 2000, 3,500 more showed up in 2008 as compared to 2004.  A large portion of this increase was no doubt due to changes in Virginia law, which allows students to vote where they attend university.

So one important question to consider is will JMU break heavily for President Barack Obama this November?  With this thought in mind, I asked the JMU students two questions.  Are you registered to vote in Virginia and, if so, if the election were held today, which of the candidates would you support?

Now, a considerable number of students were not at home at the time of my visit, a handful was not registered to vote, some were registered in their hometowns in other states, and still others refused to answer.  However, 108 students did respond.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate, won a plurality, 46 or 42.6%.  Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, finished in second place with 30 votes or 27.8%.  Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, was a distant third with 3 votes or 2.8%, Jill Stein, the Green candidate, was fourth at 2 votes or 1.9%, and, although not a candidate, one student planned to write-in Representative Ron Paul.  Even though he is listed on the Virginia ballot, none of the students mentioned Constitution Party candidate, Virgil Goode.  However, you should note that a sizable portion of respondents, 26 students or 24.1% stated that they are undecided.

If these survey numbers are indicative of the entire student population, then the race is still pretty fluid at JMU.  As expected, Barack Obama is ahead, but not by an insurmountable margin.

I assume that whichever candidate or campaign works the most diligently to court these undecided voters will not only win the JMU vote, but also likely claim Harrisonburg as well.  Toward that end, rumors swirl that President Obama will visit JMU prior to the election as he did back in 2008.  And what sort of impact did the second presidential debates make? What will happen?  We’ll find out soon!

3 Replies to “JMU & the 2012 Presidential Race”

  1. Even without the students, Harrisonburg was evolving into a “purplish” or at least swing city post-2004. In 2005 it went for Kaine by 5 points in that year’s Gubernatorial election, and an open Delegate seat was one of the most contested in the Commonwealth. In 2006 George Allen won by fewer than 100 votes. However, there are certainly signs that students are playing an increasing role in city politics, as the Democratic slate swept to victory on the city council, and in the 2009 elections voter turnout was nearly 40 points lower and the results were almost an exact flip of the 2008 elections, with Democrat Creigh Deeds getting 42%, which would certainly jive with out of state students taking very little interest in state level elections.

    I know alot of local Republicans loathe this situation, particularly in regards to city council. The argument is a bit weak, as there was a pretty substantial undervote for city council and those races don’t have party ID on the ballot. But the growing university committee is certainly having an impact. Oddly, the dislike of JMU students voting is totally opposite of that in Lynchburg, where they love their Liberty voters–then again, JMU and Liberty are pretty opposite institutions. Frankly, I think the whole “voting at school” thing is bull, but then I had every intention of moving back home after school. Most view themselves as itinerant once they cross they grab that diploma at their high school graduation.

  2. To The People of Virginia and other States in the Military: As a friend of Mitt Romney and wife and family and Rick Santorum as well :
    WE WILL DEFINITELY NOT cut back on The Military and your Familes at all .
    We give you ‘se In the Military undertaking in STONE if NEED BE.
    And well done for Fighting For This Great Country of America , we salute you ‘se and your families and The soldiers who fought in previous wars who are in The American Legion ,: and our brave men and women who are currently serving in The Navy , The Marines , The Army , The Air Force and The Coast Guard.

    God bless you and your Families and THANKYOU! so much in Jesus Christ Name

    Yours truly .a
    p.s You are in our prayers all the Time :and yes we do help in any other way to the USO and other very important organisations as well . We Salute You!

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