The Elephant in the Room May Be Luring College Students Over to its Party

A Troubled Economy and Shaky Job Market Have Left Some College Students Leaning to the Right


Published: October 7, 2010

Times are definitely changing, but it may not be the change President Barack Obama was shooting for during his campaign. In recent years, the college vote has been mainly Democratic, but now thanks to a complicated economy, many young people are changing their opinions.

Illustration by Annemarie Gundel/The Observer

“Though many students are liberals on social issues, the economic reality of a weak job market has taken a toll on their loyalties. Far fewer 18- to-29-year-olds now identify themselves as democrats compared with 2008,” said Kirk Johnson of the New York Times.

And even Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) is not immune to the shift, as students that once considered themselves middle of the line are now leaning towards the right.

“I do not really like what Obama is doing right now, so I am probably not up for him again, especially because of the health care changes,” said Melanie Moore, FCLC ’14. “I do not really care so much about the job market yet, because it still does not affect me. But as far as health care goes, my mom works in that field and it has been tough.”

“The current economic state has just reaffirmed my conservative position,” said Romana Soutus, FCLC ’14. “I was already conservative beforehand, but because of the way the democrats have dealt with the economy, I have just been made more sure of what I believe in. Currently, I am not satisfied with what is happening. I am still very passionate about my conservative views, and I think that we need to give the conservative way a try because I don’t believe the liberal way is working.”

Then there are those students who are not completely sold on switching political affiliations, but see this as a possibility in the future.

“Right now I would say no [in regards to becoming more conservative], but that could change when I get closer to actually having to face that reality,” said Gramm Smith, FCLC ’14.

But in an overwhelming amount of cases, FCLC students are not feeling the change, with many students continuing to identify themselves as liberal as they have always been.

“I am as liberal as they come, economically and socially speaking. I cannot see myself becoming more conservative in this respect,” said Ben Schaub, FCLC ’14, who was an avid Obama supporter in the 2008 election, “My financial mindset has always been very liberal, because I think that if everyone stayed away from protectionist practices, it would benefit both the economy and the individual greatly. I would like to see people start to use their money to benefit themselves and their nation, rather than making conservative decisions that meagerly protect their own financial interests.”

“My economic views have continually been pretty liberal, and they have not changed since Obama got into office,” said Dan Drolet, FCLC ’12. “Personally, I will have a hard time getting a job because we are cutting public spending, so if we had more liberal economic policies, it would actually provide me a job. If we go more conservatively, I do not think I would have the same opportunities.”

And then there are those FCLC students who completely refute the trend, finding that rather than having a more conservative economic stance, they’ve become increasingly liberal.

“If anything, I am becoming more liberal,” said Ben Lebowitz, FCLC ’11, on the topic of the future job market and if it has made him more conservative. “I do not really know what my life is going to be like then. I do know that the job market is on the rise, and that what I am trying to get into has a high demand because it is new and not many people know how to use it right now. So I am cautious, apprehensive and concerned about the job market, but I am trying to keep positive.”

“I have been increasingly more exposed to a big government and pro-regulation line of thought since 2008. My political position however has not shifted much— I was a libertarian then and still am,” said Thiago Lemos, FCLC ’12. “I do think that many people in college have shifted more to the right. I see it mostly as people being for the president when things are going well, and against him or her when things are going poorly. These people are lost in their political compass and in limbo as to what the role of government should be.”

So while the rest of the country may be moving towards the right, FCLC students, more so than ever, align their political loyalties with the left.