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The My College Options® Resource Center provides up to date news and information for students and parents.

Press Release

For immediate release : 11/10/16

National Poll of 65,000+ High School Students Correctly Predicts
Election Results Again


My College Options® Student Presidential Poll contains valuable insights from students, including first-time voters.

WASHINGTON (November 10, 2016) — Earlier this month, My College Options®, presented findings with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) that surveyed more than 65,000 high school students, including first-time voters

The study, currently in its third cycle, explores students’ perceptions regarding the presidential candidates, issues most important to them, the direction of the country, presidential performance, their level of political engagement and what media sources they use to learn about political issues.

The results of this study have accurately represented the national election results for the winning presidential candidate for the third consecutive presidential election cycle. This year, the study found that the majority of high school students (ages 14 to 18) would vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton by a 12-point margin. In 2012 students reported they would vote for Barack Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney (52 percent vs. 36 percent, respectively), and in 2008 students said they would vote for Obama over John McCain (58 percent vs. 39 percent, respectively). In each case, the students identified with the actual winning candidate in the presidential election.

Study Map The 2016 study not only found that Trump would win overall, but with first-time student voters by a large margin, and with girls by a narrower margin. Clinton would beat Trump among African Americans and Latinos by a large margin, and by a narrower margin with Asians. More than one in three participants said they would "choose not to vote in the 2016 election."

Students’ top priorities overall are education, the economy and gun rights. For African American and Latino students the top issues are education, followed by the economy, immigration and racism for Latinos; and racism, the economy and health care for African Americans. White students indicated their top priority is the economy, followed by education, gun rights and terrorism. White students were least likely to say they would "choose not to vote," while African American, Asian and Latino students were most likely to opt for "choose not to vote in this election." See top findings of the My College Options Student Presidential Poll below, and view the full study with updated data here.


Top 2016 findings indicate:

First-time voters:

  • Presidential election: Trump (45 percent), Clinton (32 percent), third-party candidate (11 percent), write-in candidate (4 percent), "I would choose not to vote in this election" (7 percent), no answer (2 percent)
  • Obama job approval: approve (43 percent), disapprove (31 percent), no opinion (20 percent), no answer (6 percent)
  • Direction of country — positive: yes (11 percent), no (56 percent), I don’t know (26 percent), no answer (6 percent)
  • Political engagement: very engaged (24 percent), somewhat engaged (49 percent), not very engaged (16 percent), not at all engaged (5 percent), no answer (7 percent)
  • Top issues: economy (44 percent), education (39 percent), gun rights (28 percent), health care (19 percent)
  • Top news sources: cable news (65 percent), social media sites (46 percent), online news (46 percent), teachers (42 percent)
Overall:

  • Trump (33 percent), Clinton (21 percent), third-party candidate (9 percent), write-in candidate (4 percent), "I would choose not to vote in this election" (31 percent), no answer (2 percent)
  • Obama job approval: approve (42 percent), disapprove (24 percent), no opinion (28 percent), no answer (6 percent)
  • Direction of country — positive: yes (7 percent), no (54 percent), I don’t know (34 percent), no answer (6 percent)
  • Political engagement: very engaged (13 percent), somewhat engaged (42 percent), not very engaged (25 percent), not at all engaged (13 percent), no answer (6 percent)
  • Top issues: education (42 percent), economy (38 percent), gun rights (27 percent), health care (19 percent)
  • Top news sources: cable news (61 percent), social media sites (46 percent), parents (44 percent), online news (41 percent)
The 2016 presidential polling research, conducted by My College Options, began in September 2016 using paper survey ballots administered in U.S. high schools, resulting in a nationally representative sample with a marginal error of just 0.5 percent.

"The presidential research study provides valuable insights from high school students and stimulates important discussions surrounding national elections. My College Options serves as a catalyst for lifelong learning and, through this national youth survey, we want to promote students’ passions for civic engagement. We believe it is our obligation to amplify their voices on issues that are so critical to our future," said Cara Quackenbush, vice president of research.

"It’s critical to understand what the students’ priorities and preferences are as we found out in the Presidential Pulse Study to better engage this potentially powerful subset of the electorate at an early stage for the 2020 elections," said Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of HHF. "Our findings shocked us and clearly state that the Trump effect was not only felt by adults and can have an impact going forward with Generation Z. It’s also an important message that youth can’t be taken for granted as to how they lean politically by either side of the aisle. I’m grateful to our friends at My College Options and the Raben Group for giving youth a voice during these important elections and beyond."

Methodology
Each presidential election year, this research instrument is designed by My College Options in collaboration with a national education partner. In 2012, My College Options partnered with the National Council for the Social Studies and, in 2016, the HHF. The research instruments were tested and refined through online preliminary studies to create final paper ballots distributed to high schools across the nation.

To support the 2016 presidential research, 2,800 high school students were surveyed online to test the preliminary survey instrument for relevancy and contextual accuracy. The results of the preliminary study, performed in the fall of 2015, informed the questions that were used for the paper ballots in 2016.

In the spring of 2016, presidential primary ballots were mailed to educators across the nation, resulting in 103,354 responses with a margin of error of 0.4 percent. The anonymous responses were collected and analyzed to produce an initial report. The spring 2016 results can be viewed here.

Final presidential ballots were mailed in late September 2016 to high schools across the nation. The presidential polling research data was collected and the anonymous responses were analyzed in order to produce the following interactive report. The resulting study sample represents nearly 1,200 high schools and 65,801 students and is nationally representative by student gender and race, as well as high school demographics such as public/private, community type (rural/urban/suburban), income level and minority level. The current estimated sampling error for this study is plus or minus 0.5 percent at the 99 percent confidence level.

About My College Options:
My College Options is the nation’s largest college planning program, offering free assistance and valuable resources to students, parents, high schools, counselors and teachers nationwide. The program serves as the primary link between high school students and colleges, universities and the tools they need to succeed. For more information, please visit mycollegeoptions.org.

About Hispanic Heritage Foundation:
The Hispanic Heritage Foundation inspires, prepares and connects Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities. HHF also promotes cultural pride, accomplishment and advocacy, as well as the great promise of the community through public awareness campaigns seen by millions. HHF is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, with satellite offices in New York, Miami, Silicon Valley and Mexico City. For more information, please visit hispanicheritage.org.

About National Council for the Social Studies:
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has grown to be the largest association in the country devoted solely to social studies education. NCSS engages and supports educators in strengthening and advocating social studies. With members in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 69 foreign countries, NCSS serves as an umbrella organization for elementary, secondary and college teachers of history, civics, geography, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology and law-related education. Organized into a network of more than 110 affiliated state, local and regional councils and associated groups, the NCSS membership represents K-12 classroom teachers, college and university faculty members, curriculum designers and specialists, social studies supervisors and leaders in the various disciplines that constitute the social studies. For more information, please visit socialstudies.org.

Media Contact:
Todd Boullion
My College Options, Chief Marketing Officer
(800) 862-7759
toddb@nrccua.org