Breaking Down Fordham’s Ballot

The Observer’s 2020 political survey results

October 29, 2020

The Observer conducted an anonymous survey of 211 Fordham students between Sept. 8 and Oct. 18 to study college students’ values, analyze opinions of the United States’ political system and inquire into how politics impact personal relationships as part of The Observer’s coverage on the 2020 presidential election.

The survey produced results with an emphasis on Fordham College at Lincoln Center students, who comprised over 75% of the sample size. The respondents are composed of all grade levels, including five 2020 graduates. The largest groups of respondents came from the class years of 2021 and 2022, equaling 60.6% of the total. The class of 2023 made up 28.9% and the class of 2024 made up 8.1% of the sample.

The most common major among participants was political science, followed by English and global business.

Participation was voluntary; The Observer distributed the survey to the Fordham community via social media, The Observer newsletter and selected department’s email lists.

How do you identify politically?

survey results showing 57.3% Democrat, 9% Republican, 1.4% Green, 9.5% Independent, 18% No Association, and 4.7% other

Over half of the respondents to the survey identified as Democrats and 9% as Republicans. Outside of the U.S.’s two major political parties, 17.1% of students said they do not associate with any political party and 9.5% identified as Independent. The other 7.5% of respondents wrote in third party affiliations — such as libertarian and the Green Party — and more left ideologies, such as communism and socialism. 

Are you planning to vote in the 2020 election?

survey results showing 93.4% "Yes" and 6.6% "No"

An almost unanimous 93.4% of students planned on voting in the 2020 presidential election. Read additional coverage on the student divisions created by the choice to vote here.

If you answered yes to voting in the 2020 election, how are you planning on submitting your ballot?

survey showing a pie chart of the results of the above question which are described below

The majority of Fordham students who participated in the survey voted by mail, while one-third of respondents voted in person. Dropping off an absentee ballot at an in-person location comprised 9.1% of responses, while 1.5% said they were unsure how they were going to vote at the time of their survey response. Read additional coverage on how Fordham students plan on voting here.

If you answered “Voting by mail” to the question above, how confident do you feel about your vote being counted on time?survey results in a bar chart showing most people giving a confidence score of 4 out or 5 for their vote by mail being received on time

Even with systematic slowdowns of the United States Postal Service, most students said they are confident that their mail in ballot would be counted on time, with only 17.3% of respondents saying they were very or slightly doubtful. Read additional coverage on voting during a pandemic here.

As a college student and a young person, do you feel like your vote is being suppressed?

survey results showing mostly "No" and less than 50% "Yes"

As young voters, 61.3% of students responded that they do not feel like their vote is being suppressed. Read additional coverage on voter suppression of college students here.

If you answered “yes” to voting in the 2020 election, whom do you plan on casting your ballot for in terms of president and vice president? survey results in a pie chart showing Biden/Harris with 86% of the vote and Trump with 8%, other options made up the final points

An overwhelming 86% of Fordham students who participated in the survey planned on voting for the Democratic ticket. Only 8% planned on voting for the reelection of President Donald Trump, and 1% said they are voting for third-party candidates. A handful of respondents were unsure of who they were going to vote for at the time, and 1.5% said they preferred not to share.

If you answered “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris” for who you plan on voting for, rank on a scale from one to five on how you feel about their platform. survey results in a bar chart showing that most respondents rated the Biden/Harris platform as 2 out of 5

Only 1.7% of students are highly in agreement with his platform. One-fourth of respondents strongly disagree with his ideologies, while the rest lie in the middle. Read additional coverage on student perspectives of candidates here.

Has your image of a preferred candidate changed in the past six months due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests?

survey results in a pie chart showing mostly "No" and less than 50% "yes"

A majority of students said their opinion on the candidates has not changed in the last six months. Read additional coverage on the intersection of the Black Lives Matter movement and the presidential election here

Do you believe that the demands of the current Black Lives Matter movement have influenced politics and will trigger legislative change? survey results in a pie chart showing more than 75% of respondents answering "yes"

Do you think that the Black Lives Matter movement has influenced people’s thoughts on the 2020 election?

survey results in a pie chart showing a very large majority of respondents answering "yes"

Most students felt like the Black Lives Matter movement has influenced U.S. society on both an individual and governmental level. Read additional coverage on student thoughts about how Black Lives Matter has triggered change here

Have you actively participated in the Black Lives Matter movement since the murder of George Floyd?

survey results in a pie chart showing 42.2% answering "yes in person and online" and 39.8% as "yes, online only" while 15.6% said "no" and 2.4% said "yes, in person only"

Did you actively participate in the Black Lives Matter movement prior to the murder of George Floyd?survey results in a pie chart showing 44% answering "no," 30% as "yes, online only" "21% as in person and online" and 3.8% "yes in-person only"

Prior to May 2020 and the murder of George Floyd, only 55.9% of respondents actively took part in the Black Lives Matter movement in some capacity. After, the number jumps to 84.4%. Read additional coverage on student activism online here and student activism in person here.

In your opinion, what are the five most pressing political issues currently?

Survey results in a bar chart showing the rankings as climate change, health care, policing, immigration, and incarceration

Students’ most pressing political issues aligned with these five topics. Abortion, education, gun control and unemployment were other issues that ranked highly. Read about how students respond to their most pressing issues not being addressed in the upcoming election here.

How confident are you that the most pressing political issues you listed will be addressed by incoming politicians in the next four years?

survey results in a bar chart showing the most people answering a score of 3 out of 5 with 2 out of 5 being the second most

Reactions showed that students do not know if positive change will occur in the next four years. Only 3.8% of respondents felt confident that the issues would be addressed, while 14.7% felt strongly that they would not be addressed.

Do you have trust in the current American political system to serve justice and do what you believe is morally right?gif of survey results showing most (approximately 75%) answered "No" with the next highest result being "I am not sure" and the least responding "Yes"


Only 7.6% of respondents trust the United States’ current political system. Read additional coverage about students’ lack of faith in the system here


Do you think the Fordham community shares the same political beliefs as you?survey results in a chart showing "yes" with 63.5% and "no" with 36.5%

More than half of Fordham students believe their peers share similar political views as themselves. The group that answered “yes” comprises 63.5% of respondents. Read additional coverage about the divide within the Fordham community here

Do your political beliefs align with your direct family members?survey results in a chart showing 40.3% answering "only a select few", 34.6% answering "yes" and 25.1% answering "no"

Do the political views of your family members impact your voting?survey results in a pie chart showing no at 78.7% and yes as 21.3%

How Fordham students relate to their families politically is split. One-fourth of respondents do not share views with their family members, and about one-third do share beliefs. The other students mark a mixture of members they agree and disagree with. About one-fifth of students said their family impacts how they vote. Read additional coverage about how politics affect familial relationships here.

Have you ever ended a friendship due to contrasting political beliefs?


Almost 40% of Fordham students have ended a relationship due to differing political ideology. Read additional coverage on how politics affect relationships here.

Do you partake in activism via social media? (i.e. sharing resources on your personal accounts, fundraising digitally, etc.)77.7% answered "yes" and 22.9% answered "no"

Did you actively participate in online activism prior to the murder of George Floyd?55% answered yes and 45% answered no

Over three-fourths of respondents post political content on social media. This number is dramatically higher than the amount of students who engaged in online activism prior to the murder of George Floyd — only 55%. Read additional coverage about online activism here.

Do you believe that online activism is effective?a pie chart showing the vast majority (nearly 75%) answering "yes"

Do you feel pressured to engage in online activism?a pie chart showing a slight majoring answering "yes"

Do you believe that online activism is performative? 

a vast majority (just under 75%) answered "yes"

Less than 70% of students believe that online activism is effective even though over 70% said they participate in online activism. Students were split when asked if they feel pressured by political posts; 54% said they do feel pressured to engage, while 46% answered no. Almost three-fourths of the respondents said they felt like online activism is performative. Read additional coverage about students’ relationship to online activism here

Do you take part in activism that is not online/social media-based? (i.e. phone banking, organizing supply drives, canvassing, etc.)52.6% answered "yes" and 47.4% answered "no"

About half of students partake in activism that is not online. Some activities students mentioned they engage in include: phone banking, protesting, donating and canvassing. Read additional coverage about student civic engagement here

Do you engage in political education outside of the classroom? 94.8% responded "yes" and 5.2% answered "no"

If yes, check all methods of education that apply.

In order the answers were film/television, books, YouTube, podcasts, social media conversations, and webinars/events

An overwhelming majority of students engage in political education outside of the classroom. Methods of engagement include books, television, movies, social media, webinars and podcasts. Read additional coverage about political education here.

Graphic illustrations by Maddie Sandholm and Alison Ettinger-DeLong. 

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About the Contributors
JOE KOTTKE, Former News Editor

Joe Kottke, FCLC ’23, is a news editor at The Observer. They are majoring in journalism and Spanish studies. In addition to writing and reporting, Joe loves to watch anime, re-read their favorite young adult fiction novels and play piano.

KATRINA LAMBERT, Former Editor-in-Chief

Katrina Lambert, FCLC ’22, is the editor-in-chief for The Observer. She is majoring in journalism and minoring in history. Her favorite part of The Observer has been watching writers grow throughout their time on the newspaper. When she isn’t thinking about The Observer, you can probably catch her running or watching “The Karate Kid” again. She previously worked as an editor in the News section.

MADDIE SANDHOLM, Former Managing Editor

Maddie Sandholm (she/her), FCLC ’23, is the former managing editor at The Observer. She is a new media and digital design and visual arts double major. If she's not in The Observer office, you might find her drawing, playing guitar or playing Stardew Valley with her sisters. Previously, she worked as a layout editor.


Alison Ettinger-DeLong, Fordham College at Lincoln Center ’23, is a multimedia editor for The Observer. She is a dual sociology and urban studies major. Alison’s favorite part of creating multimedia content is making graphics and editing videos. She also loves discussing intersecting social demographics, caring too much about fonts and eating lots of vegetarian sushi.

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