According to a straw poll conducted by a new organization called M.O.V.E. (Mobilize, Organize, Vote and Educate) UTSA, 43.2 percent of UTSA students would vote to re-elect President Barack Obama if the vote was held today. The poll also asked students about several important issues that have become the focus of this election season.
A total 836 students voted in the straw poll; which is a vote with nonbinding results. These types of surveys are often used to obtain statistics on how a certain population feels about a specific candidate or issue.
The poll revealed that students are split almost down the center on issues such as the size of the U.S. government, whether or not it helps or hurts the economy, and who would students vote for if given the choice between Barack Obama and Ron Paul.
Some issues on which students were not so evenly divided were Obama (65.1 percent) versus Romney (34.9 percent), Obama (72 percent) versus Santorum (28 percent), abortion-62.2 percent said it should be legal in all or most cases, while 37.8 percent said it should be illegal in all or most cases-and the best system for student loans. Participants were also asked what three issues were most important to them at the moment. The most frequent responses were education, health care and the national debt.
For the outright vote among all current presidential candidates, the participants responded as follows: Barack Obama (43.2 percent), Ron Paul (22.3 percent), Mitt Romney (13.4 percent), Rick Santorum, (5.6 percent), Newt Gingrich (2.69 percent) and Gary Johnson (1 percent). A small percentage of respondents (2.7 percent) said they would vote for a candidate not listed in the poll and 9.1 percent said they would not vote at all.
A striking issue confirmed by the straw poll is voter non-participation. Just over 55 percent of respondents said they have never voted in a state or local election or referendum and 61 percent said they had never voted in a campus election, survey or referendum.
Ian Jacobson, a senior real estate finance and development major and president of the College Republicans of UTSA, is a member of M.O.V.E. UTSA.
“I’m in M.O.V.E. because I’m politically active and I feel that raising voter awareness and stifling campus apathy is paramount,” Jacobson said. “Within the group we have libertarians, democrats, republicans, marxists, etc. who are committed to working together and promoting civil discourse.”
In addition to his experience in voter registration drives the group regularly conducts, Jacobson responded to his work on the straw poll.
“It was a great experience. In the future we hope to have more volunteers so that we can catch a larger spread of the student population,” Jacobson said.
M.O.V.E. was founded in October 2011 by Charles Wilkison (founder of Young Democrats at UTSA), Jason Hensley (former president of Young Americans for Liberty at UTSA) and Alexis Colton (former chairwoman of the College Republicans of UTSA). The group’s mission is to, “educate, register, and mobilize voters of all and any political beliefs and affiliations in order to produce/generate a more concerned and politically aware populace, not only at UTSA but throughout the city of San Antonio and Bexar County; and to encourage political participation within all UTSA communities, regardless of ethnicity, religion, sexual and gender identity, and political affiliation and belief system.”
Wilkison also explained that there are nine organizations involved with M.O.V.E. In addition, the organization is non-partisan, does not endorse any candidates, and divides power equally among officers.
“We have a debate organized by students and faculty planned for the fall, as well as a voter registration drive. We are also planning some other things (that) we’re going to have to keep secret until the fall,” Wilkison said.