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Who’s Your Candidate for President? Take Our Poll

Terriers plunge into primary politics


For all the uncertainties of a presidential campaign, one thing is clear after a morning following Madeline McGill as she rings doorbells in Nashua, N.H., for Hillary Clinton: the animals in this neighborhood are more sociable than the people.

A cat crosses the street to be petted, and a preternaturally massive Rottweiler on a wire joyfully bounds across its yard to lick McGill (CAS’16) and play. By contrast, the hard-to-miss student—she’s six-foot-three—goes largely unseen by fellow Homo sapiens. Out of almost 30 addresses on her list, most people aren’t home this sunny late-fall Saturday. One who clearly is (music blares from the house) doesn’t answer, turning off the tunes after McGill knocks, two others who do answer aren’t interested in hearing about Clinton, and the only other person who comes to the door says the person on McGill’s list doesn’t live here.

McGill, who has canvassed in past campaigns—it’s how she met her boyfriend—takes it all cheerfully in stride. She leaves Clinton brochures at each unanswered door, finding not-always-obvious spots to stick them. “You have to get kind of creative. See, New Hampshire people lock their storm doors,” this old pro says.

Elections interest McGill more than they do most people; she’s a political science major and vice president of BU’s College Democrats, and the canvas marked her fourth trip to New Hampshire for Clinton. She’s also far from alone in plunging into this unorthodox presidential campaign. With raucous contests for both parties’ nominations and the real-life laboratory of next-door New Hampshire, home to the nation’s first primary February 9, Terriers Democratic and Republican are getting a hands-on seminar in American politics.

Corey Pray (CAS’17), College Republicans vice president, has ferried groups of students north via Zipcar for various events, while he himself volunteered for the campaign of former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as a community captain, handling duties from door greeter to distributor of candidate stickers to on-campus advocate for Fiorina.

Which presidential candidate would you vote for in the primaries? (Choose one)
Jeb Bush (R)
Ben Carson (R)
Chris Christie (R)
Hillary Clinton (D)
Ted Cruz (R)
Carly Fiorina (R)
Jim Gilmore (R)
Mike Huckabee (R)
John Kasich (R)
Martin O’Malley (D)
Rand Paul (R)
Marco Rubio (R)
Bernie Sanders (D)
Rick Santorum (R)
Donald Trump (R)
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“There is a lot of excitement around this election, and there are a lot of very active students on campus,” says Morgan Frost (CAS’16), president of College Democrats and a supporter of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who has excited campus followings nationally with his focus on economic inequality.

While no one has polled BU students on their presidential picks (until now—see accompanying poll above), party leaders say the campus dynamic is the flip side of what’s playing out nationally in both parties. Among Republicans nationwide, Donald Trump nurses a long-standing lead, but on campus, “I would say Florida Senator Marco Rubio has become the front-runner among BU College Republicans,” says Ava Mack (CAS’17), the group’s president.

“We held a debate viewing party for the club for the October 28 GOP debate…and the consensus was almost always that Carly and Marco were doing the best,” says Rubio supporter Michael Holtz (CAS’18).

On the Democratic side, editorialists are hitting the thesaurus to find new adjectives for Clinton’s formidable lead nationally (although polls show her either trailing or neck and neck with Sanders in Iowa and New Hampshire). But while she boasts ample support among University students, “I think many would conclude that Bernie is the more popular candidate at BU,” McGill acknowledges. (Support for the third Democrat in the race, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, is so scant that an effort to start a BU group for him fizzled, she says.)

What fuels student passion for these pols? Frost, a Sanderista, prizes sincerity, and Sanders throughout his career has advocated for “minorities, women, veterans, and LGBTQ+ community,” she says. His shunning big donors and his support for causes like affordable college and health care also drew her.

McGill leaned towards Sanders until attending a New Hampshire candidates forum in September. Clinton awed her with detailed comments on how problems like opioid addiction played out in the Granite State; Sanders offered a speech she found on-target, but boilerplate. “I felt that Hillary understood the needs of the individual very specifically,” while “his speech didn’t ring true to me. There are a lot of things in the United States in my opinion that don’t need reform.”

Among Republicans, Holtz likes Rubio for his stand on a litany of issues, from cutting corporate taxes to supporting the Black Lives Matter movement to opposing a higher minimum wage and creating a stronger military presence.

Boston University student Corey Pray with presidential candidate Carly Fiorina

Among the benefits of campaign volunteering is posing with your candidate—here, Corey Pray (CAS’17) with Carly Fiorina. Photo courtesy of Corey Pray

Pray, by contrast, likes Fiorina more for her personal biography and average-folks experience: starting her career as a receptionist, losing a stepdaughter to substance abuse and bulimia, surviving breast cancer. “She’s not a professional politician. She’s a citizen leader who, just from what I know, is a very authentic person.…She’s running for the right reasons,” he says.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, who polling suggests is gaining in New Hampshire, appeals to Caroline Giovannucci (CAS’18) as the moderate in the race, supporting tax cuts and gun rights while attending a gay friend’s wedding despite opposing same-sex marriage. “The party is labeled as very extreme, and yet here is a man…who could work with both Democrats and Republicans due to his more moderate stances and ability to compromise,” she says.

Burning rubber to New Hampshire while burning the midnight oil studying is a balancing act; McGill says her fall independent study project had been “terribly neglected.” But those disinclined to peel away from their academics can still participate in the election. Besides both campus groups’ debate-viewing gatherings, “BU for Bernie has been focusing more of their efforts on campus and around Boston,” with canvassing and phone banks, says Frost.

The downside of intrusions on study time is balanced for political junkies by the payoff from working on a campaign for the highest office in the land. McGill recalls that during her first canvas, in a Boston neighborhood for a gubernatorial candidate in 2014, “the first conversation I had changed the way I see politics forever. The feeling of talking to someone, especially a student, and getting the sense that you might have convinced them to participate in a way they might not have…is an incredible feeling.”

If a student canvasses or participates in a phone bank just once, she says, “they’ll vote for the rest of their life.”

Campuses are famously liberal places, but officers in both the Democratic and the Republican groups put their active student membership in the same range (35 for the Democrats, 40 for Republicans). Generalizing about ideology is trickier, Frost says: “I do think that socially, our student body leans left, in terms of things like marriage and gender equality and climate justice.” But “the economic issues are a bit more difficult to gauge.”

Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

59 Comments on Who’s Your Candidate for President? Take Our Poll

  • Cristian Morales on 01.27.2016 at 9:32 am

    If anyone is interested in supporting Bernie Sanders’ campaign, but in non-intimidating-to-beginners ways that are on the BU campus, come to BU for Bernie’s meetings at 7:15 on Wednesdays in the SCI lobby, and visit facebook.com/bu4sanders

  • Alumnus on 01.27.2016 at 10:00 am

    I would love to see what would happen to this poll if Bloomberg was an option. He would be someone I would fully stand behind, rather than just picking the less bad option.

  • Will R on 01.27.2016 at 11:10 am

    I am hoping those who voted and go/went to BU are smart enough not to choose Trump and it’s just a joke. Either way, Trump is the bigot’s latest revival. You know when a fish dies it remains calm for a while and then there is one last jerk and then after that it’s dead for good. Trump is the bigoted, racists, xenophobes, and right-wing radicals last jerk. As much as Trump’s ideas are bothersome and saddening…I will more than happy/ecstatic to see him and his briefs lose and go down the drain.

    • Jim Rustle on 01.27.2016 at 3:07 pm

      Nice buzzwords. It’s sad that you’re so clearly blinded by left wing cultural marxism that you can’t even comprehend that Trump (and only Trump) is the only chance the US has of ever turning it around. Socialism is pure cancer on society and perhaps if you spent more time learning your history and less time spewing meaningless buzzwords you would understand.

      • PB on 01.27.2016 at 3:47 pm

        Trump is very racist!

        • Jim Rustle on 01.27.2016 at 3:50 pm

          Sorry to have to tell you this, but Islam isn’t a race.

          • Dre on 01.27.2016 at 4:12 pm

            i mean while i agree with you that a lot of this is buzzwords, saying things like “socialism is pure cancer on society” isn’t much better.

            i think BOTH sides are very radical this cycle, i think BOTH sides are very buzzword responsive. the fact that supporters on either side are saying X is the only option is showing lack of critical thought. I think Trump would take us down path X. Sanders, down path Y, etc etc. you can disagree with the paths (as many of us do) but the idea that it’s path X or a dead end/cliff shows lack of open mindedness and thinking skills.

            P.S. no, Islam isn’t a race. nor is Jewish. but these are religions that dominate certain cultures (arguably) to the point that a race/ethnicity would. that being said, i’m not really saying either comment is correct/incorrect; refer to my first statement where you’re both close minded and essentially trying to demonize the opposite view as less intelligent and/or brainwashed.

  • Katarina Rusinas on 01.27.2016 at 11:22 am

    For all the Hillary supporters we would love for you to join us! We have a phone bank on Wednesday nights at 6 in the basement of 518 Park Drive. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, we are also having an Iowa Caucus Watch Party with pizza this Monday. A lot of our members, including myself, are first time volunteers. Shoot us an email at buforhillary@gmail.com or message us on Facebook if you have any questions.

  • concerned student on 01.27.2016 at 11:34 am

    extremely concerning that so many students are ok with giving up so much of their income to taxes under bernie’s policy. How can he be the number one choice here? I do not know who i will vote for, but i do know who i will not vote for…. That being said i am not here just to complain, but someone please explain their reasoning for being so pro bernie

    • Lilly on 01.27.2016 at 1:46 pm

      What I find concerning is that so many people voted for Trump. Very concerning!

      • Shai Dorsai on 01.27.2016 at 2:22 pm

        What I find scary is that so many vote for Hillary without bothering to remember all the problems her ambitions have caused.
        Benghazi is merely one where she caused the death of Americans.
        Then there was the time when she claimed she was under sniper fire in the Former Yugoslavia. Nobody seems to remember how safe things were for her.
        And then there are those thousands of Secret E-Mails she deleted.

    • katie on 01.27.2016 at 3:17 pm

      The idea is that if you pay more in taxes you will receive far more value in services than you’re giving up. For example, if I can pay an extra couple percentage points on my taxes in return for not having to pay for private health insurance, that saves me a lot of money.

      • Jim Rustle on 01.27.2016 at 3:30 pm

        The state will never provide a better service than the free market, never has and never will. If Americans can’t afford health care now, what makes you think they can afford it plus the government bureaucracy thrown on top?

        If you want to pay more taxes that’s fine, nothing is stopping you from sending the IRS more money than they ask for, but forcing others to do so through coercive force is nothing short of pure greed.

        It’s 2016, it’s about time that basic economics was taught in schools.

      • Miguel on 01.27.2016 at 6:28 pm

        That is all nice an looks like it should work out well on paper. My only question is how would that work in an imperfect world where greedy IRS members are out to skim money off the top of public funds, a nation full of people with an overwhelming sense of entitlement are out to take whatever they see, and an insanely high unemployment rate where people wouldn’t be able to put back into the system what they take out (similar to what’s going on with the social security mess)

      • Kitty on 01.27.2016 at 9:46 pm

        Well, already 52% of the country’s population pay no taxes at all, and receive the benefits of the 48% who do pay taxes. Under Bernie, the US will be bankrupt long before there is free college for everyone. It’s just unsustainable with fewer and fewer people paying taxes.

    • Feeling the Bern on 01.27.2016 at 5:21 pm


      Also, this opinion piece published yesterday on WBUR goes a long way to describe many of the reasons I support Bernie, and in a more eloquent way than I realistically have time to write at this very moment: http://cognoscenti.wbur.org/2016/01/26/a-household-divided-between-sanders-and-clinton-steve-almond

    • Anonymous on 02.11.2016 at 7:09 am

      Students likely have very limited income in the first place, and so they wouldn’t really be taking a big hit. But also the whole point of contributing to social services is that it improves basic quality of life. The facts are that most people aren’t going to be sitting on a yacht, there just isn’t enough money for everyone to lead that kind of lifestyle. Instead, you’re part of country where people cannot afford to support their own health with basic medicine, where children don’t have access to food, and where adults are illiterate. That, to some people, is quite concerning. In fact, it’s embarrassing. I don’t want to live in a place where someone with really simple problems in life isn’t provided with the basic resources to solve them. These are the same problems that most of us have had solved for us by being lucky or having parents that could build wealth in an economy THAT NO LONGER EXISTS. Most of us will not be able to afford the same things our parents did at our age. And anyway, you already *are* giving up so much…be it income, or something else…to support the status quo. If you’re a typical student in this country you will likely be paying off your college debt for the next several years, struggle to find a job and then struggle to find a tiny apartment that you can barely afford. It’s not a bright future for the middle class. Wouldn’t you like to have some basic assurances for your future, like, being able to see a doctor when you need it? People are overly optimistic about how their futures will look and it’s not your fault– the system was actually designed that way by the people who actually DO sit around on yachts. They want to keep you dreaming and hopeful so you don’t actually stand up and do something about the fact that something is seriously wrong in this country.

  • Let's Just Give All Our Money Away on 01.27.2016 at 12:28 pm

    I know BU is a liberal school, but it makes me sad that Bernie is polling as the favorite here. We are supposed to be well-educated adults. Bernie’s plan’s are the definition of impractical and simply pander to millenials. I’d love to individually talk to all the people who voted for Bernie and see if a single one has actually followed the election.

    And if any of you are in Questrom,drop out now. If you think 50% taxes on 2 million dollars income is rational, you do not belong.

    • You're an idiot on 01.27.2016 at 1:35 pm

      Feel the Bern

      • Shai Dorsai on 01.27.2016 at 2:23 pm

        I’d rather the fire department put it out.

      • Voting for Rand Paul on 01.27.2016 at 2:26 pm

        Nice argument there, top quality debate skills I see you have honed over many years in studious thought.

    • Alumnus on 01.28.2016 at 2:33 pm

      I’m with you on this one. I was stunned when I saw the poll results. I would be interested in understanding what historical, economic, political or social premises they are following to justify voting for someone who so far has only presented unrealistic populist strategies.

  • Vegan on 01.27.2016 at 12:35 pm

    Q: How did Trump make a small fortune bankrupting investors in his casino business?
    A: He started by inheriting a large one.

    Remember, even if you don’t want to vote FOR any candidate- certainly a defensible position in today’s political climate- there is always one that you can vote AGAINST. In this case it’s the one who conceals the fact that he is a financial failure in a corrupt industry by casting his politically inept opinions as bigotry and hatred.

    Let’s try hard to think of another gloriously elected leader from history who failed at literally everything he did until realizing that he could win an election by trumping up hatred and against a certain group of people. And HE started by going to art school, not inheriting a family fortune!

    • Voting for Rand Paul on 01.27.2016 at 2:30 pm

      He didnt inherit the million bucks, he was loaned it, then built an empire of 10 billion. He could self fund the wall he wants to build.
      Also, tactical voting is reprehensible – vote who will benefit you the most, not whomsoever is most likely to win purely to get rid of another candidate.
      And the comparison to Hitler is the single most useless argument, its just saying “I’m a child who doesnt understand that comparing the single most inhuman individual in recent history to someone who said mean things about people he doesnt like”
      Lets try to think of another gloriously elected leader from history who pushed socialism and then developed it further into communism, leading to gulags and millions and millions dead as well as the near total economic failure of his country.

      • Jose Artigas on 01.29.2016 at 7:17 pm

        Hitler said mean things about people he didn’t like. What’s your point?

  • Sayantan Das on 01.27.2016 at 1:12 pm

    As an Indian American people expect me to be more inclined towards Democrats but I feel that Bernie is now approaching communism which is an outdated and failed ideology. The Democratic Party should try to be more centrist or it might win votes only at the cost of the country’s economy. I would prefer any of the Republicans to the Democrat(I believe Democrats play vote bank politics with minorities). It is very true that socialist ideology will seem attractive if not very attractive to millenials but the millenials who caucus for him will understand their folly later and will have to pay the repurcussions maybe 20 years from now

    • Berning Up on 01.27.2016 at 1:48 pm

      Bernie Sanders is not Communist. His platforms reflect Democratic Socialism which is a different animal, and Democratic Socialism is alive and thriving in many nations around the world. And Bernie’s proposals on social issues are actually policies currently in place and working in most or all major nations.

      • See ya on 01.27.2016 at 3:04 pm

        Feel free to move to those countries

    • Social Democracy on 01.28.2016 at 12:44 pm

      The idea that Bernie is a Communist is so laughable I can’t decide whether or not this comment is for real or just bait from a right-wing comment troll.

      Anyway, Bernie is not even close to Communism. Not even in the same ballpark, state, country, continent, etc… Democratic Socialism and Social Democracy are very, very different ideologies.

      Here: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2016/01/26/Bernie-Sanders-Says-He-s-Democratic-Socialist-Here-s-What-Means

      Some of America’s best and most important programs are socialist in nature.

  • William on 01.27.2016 at 1:42 pm

    Vote for Trump guys, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!!

  • Tyrone on 01.27.2016 at 1:59 pm

    Laughing my ass off here, Sanders is actually winning? The guy is the WORST candidate of all, he is clueless… MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

    • Berning Up on 01.27.2016 at 2:03 pm

      Well, official polls have him handily beating your guy and Cruz in the general election, so there’s that.

      • Tyrone on 01.27.2016 at 2:08 pm

        Well that’s pretty scary if true, Sanders will probably destroy America with his muslim immigration policies and “free college and health care”.

      • Shai Dorsai on 01.27.2016 at 2:25 pm

        Unofficial polls have him pretty far behind:


  • Jessica on 01.27.2016 at 2:28 pm

    Oh my God, why is Trump so high in this poll? I can’t even… Oh my God he is so racist and bigoted, why so many people are picking him?

    • Jake on 01.27.2016 at 3:03 pm

      This poll was posted on 4chan, they voted Trump to mess with it. Looks like before they intervened Trump was at 323, Sanders at 1024.

      • Jessica on 01.27.2016 at 3:09 pm

        4chan? Never heard of it, most of the time i just stick with Facebook and Tumblr…

      • Jake @ BU on 01.27.2016 at 3:15 pm

        What is 4chan? Why would you blame someone for people liking Trump? He wants to make America Great Again. Isn’t that good?

        • Jessica on 01.27.2016 at 3:19 pm

          Good? Are you crazy or just stupid? He is a warmongrer that wants to BAN muslims and DEPORT Mexicans, he is crazy. Not to mention he probably hates blacks as well… Misogynist pig.

          • Jake @ BU on 01.27.2016 at 3:21 pm

            What is a warmongrer? Wasn’t he a evil person from Voltron? Anyway, Trump is actually a great choice because he doesn’t afraid of anything and can lead America into a new era of prosperity.

    • Not A Consumer on 01.27.2016 at 3:06 pm

      Because unlike most close minded Liberal / Progressive types, the rest of America actually reads something other than Vox, HuffPost and MSNBC, and can see that Trump actually isn’t all that racist or bigoted at all, and that his policies make both economic and social sense for the majority of this country. It is you people that cannot grasp the notion that we cannot just freely allow people into this country from the 3rd world, and that we should be far more selective and critical about who we want in, lest we end up with another mass rape attack like what happened in Germany.

      • Jose Artigas on 01.29.2016 at 7:21 pm

        Look up “liberal” & you’ll see that every definition includes something about tolerance & open-mindedness.

        BTW, nobody is not a consumer, Not A Consumer.

  • Joseph on 01.27.2016 at 2:38 pm


  • Aadil Ahmed on 01.27.2016 at 3:02 pm

    I can’t believe this, Trump is actually winning. That islamophobe shouldn’t even be allowed to run for president!!

    • Kitty on 01.27.2016 at 9:52 pm

      Islamophobia means: “fear of Islam.”

  • MAKE AMERICA on 01.27.2016 at 3:13 pm


  • maga on 01.27.2016 at 3:29 pm

    Make America Great Again…

    See you at the ballots comrades! Just another college-educated bigot here!

  • Juan Oliver on 01.27.2016 at 3:45 pm

    How can Trump even be winning i mean its 2016 come on

  • Rocky on 01.27.2016 at 10:43 pm

    This poll got posted in a gun enthusiast forum, on various Pro-Trump threads on 4chan, and another forum. You can put “http://www.bu.edu/today/2016/presidential-candidate-poll/” into a google search and see that it’s clearly been brigaded. So a very large % of the Trump votes came all of a sudden and users likely voted more than once. Bernie and Hillary stayed roughly 2:1 for Bernie all throughout the day, however.

    • Rocky Roo on 01.28.2016 at 8:41 am

      I understand you are upset by Trump being ahead, but your point about this poll is pretty thin, seeing how anyone can post this poll on any forum they want. The fact that Trump has more people fighting for his votes just shows that he has more dedicated supporters. Why not complain that your candidate is not getting more support instead of complaining that others are supporting someone else?

      • Really? on 01.28.2016 at 3:16 pm

        I did type it in Google and was amazed at how desperate these few Trump supporters must have been… The poll was posted in a number of pro-Trump forums. You can read for yourself the desperate calls for help. It’s obvious that Trump supporters are not very different than himself. Way to go!

        • Really Roo on 01.30.2016 at 1:50 pm

          I guess if you think working for and winning votes desperation, go with that. See how that works for your candidate election day.

  • Steven on 01.28.2016 at 3:43 pm

    Thank you to the folks who pointed out that Trump surged in this poll when it was posted to non-BU sites. Was about to have a conniption if Trump was indeed the #1 choice among the BU community!

    As it were, I’m voting for Bernie. I’ll go so far with an open call to any people here who are against Bernie or for Trump: I’d love to talk and understand your position. Drop me a line! sabrams8 AT bu DOT edu

    • Steven Roo on 01.30.2016 at 1:52 pm

      Yeah, because it’s the BU votes that matter and not the votes of the entire country.

  • Eli on 01.28.2016 at 4:57 pm


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