Poll shows majority of voting UB students to vote for Obama

Professors and students deliberate which candidate is the right choice

Forty-four percent of 1,242 UB students surveyed are voting for President Barack Obama in the upcoming presidential election.

Twenty-three percent said they will vote for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, 13 percent are undecided and 20 percent aren't voting.

Distinguished political science professor James Campbell thinks Obama failed to fix the economy in his four years, and it's time Romney takes over. English professor James Holstun thinks Obama is going in a direction of moderate economic reform of the "disaster" former President George W. Bush left.

Carlton Brock, a senior English major and president of the College Democrats, calls Romney "out of touch." Christian Andzel, a junior political science major and vice president of UB Conservatives, thinks Obama segregates groups of people.

As the Nov. 6 election nears, 80 percent of voters rate the economy as "very important" to how they will vote in the next election, according to Rasmussen Reports.

Most students will vote for Obama, which is consistent with national polls. Sixty-two percent of 18 to 29 year olds support Obama and 31 percent support Romney, according to a Gallup poll.

"[Obama] does have the youth of America in mind for a lot more of his policies," Brock said. "Historically speaking, he has paid more attention to people of our generation - especially in regards to college loans and other things like that."

Campbell, however, disagrees.

He said students must consider "the biggest issue" of this election: the economy.

"I think it's important for students not to get too myopic about this," Campbell said. "[Don't] just look at, 'How does this affect me, personally, right now?' Because this is where the economy affects everybody big time. It affects your friends who are not getting student loans; it affects your parents; it affects your future."

The current national debt is $16 trillion; it increased an average of $3.88 billion per day since Sept. 28, 2007, according to the U.S. National Debt Clock. Student loan debt is more than $1 trillion, more than any type of consumer debt in the United States.

Campbell said Romney, a businessman who co-founded Bain Capital investment firm, could apply his experience as president.

"Given the huge debt and the chaos, what we need is not so much someone with a vision for the future but a manager to get things sorted out and kind of start getting the national debt down," Campbell said.

Holstun does not think presidents are managers.

"They are elected representatives," Holstun said in an email. "And God help us if Romney gets the chance to 'manage' us the way he did his clients for Bain Capital - though he typically brought home profits for Bain, that was frequently by destroying the companies it acquired. Romney would probably be an even greater disaster for the economy than Obama has been."

Campbell points out the historically high unemployment rate as evidence for Obama's failure as president.

The unemployment rate for 18 to 29 year olds is 12.7 percent. The rate for 18- to 29-year-old old African-Americans is 22.3 percent; for 18- to 29-year-old Hispanics, 14 percent; and 18- to 29-year-old women, 12.6 percent, according to Potter Williams Report.

The nation's overall unemployment rate is 7.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"While [Obama's] plans in the short term, we're not seeing as many effects as we would like to, I think in the long-term they'll yield out better," Brock said.

In 2010, Obama proposed a plan to allow student loan borrowers to cap their monthly payments at 15 percent of their discretionary income.

The Obama Administration believes large monthly payments may discourage some graduates from starting a new job-creating business or entering teaching or another lower-paying public service career, according to The White House website.

Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate, has backed a plan that could significantly reduce Pell Grant funding, according to ABC News. Ryan said the rising cost of financial aid adds to rising tuition costs, and funding needs to be more narrowly targeted at the truly needy.

"I think that Romney's out of touch," Brock said. "He's made a lot of statements talking about parents paying for colleges and things like that. Where, in most cases, we rely on loans."

More than 37 million Americans owe student debt, and a majority of students take on loans to attend college, according to the Huffington Post.

"If you get student loans and you come out of it and there are no jobs, I think down the road you'll feel worse about not having a job after and a lot of loans to pay back," Campbell said.

Many students also relate to Obama's stance on social issues, like abortion rights and same-sex marriage equalities.

Andzel doesn't.

"President Obama panders to individual groups and he is very divisive, and he picks one group against the other," Andzel said. "Christians against LGBTA people, women against pro-lifers - that's not what a president should do. Mitt Romney, and I think the conservative agenda in general, speaks to all Americans."

Others think the candidates are very similar. Despite their differences, Holstun calls Obama and Romney "the same person" because the U.S. political system frequently "collapses into a one-party system."

Joshua Dolph, a fifth-year senior English textual studies and linguistics major at Syracuse University, isn't voting at all for that reason.

"I think the bipartisan has been woefully, laughably outdated since 1865," Dolph said.

While most UB students have decided to vote for Obama, 13 percent are still undecided. Brock and Campbell alike promote one thing: being educated on the issues and going out to vote.

Email: news@ubspectrum.com