TSL polled 170 Claremont students. Here’s their preferred presidential nominee

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is the clear 5C favorite among the crowded presidential primary field, according to a poll of Claremont Colleges students that TSL conducted and released Thursday, shortly before the top Democrats are set to debate in Houston.

Warren, who trails former Vice President Joe Biden in most national polls of the Democratic primary, is the top choice for 43 percent of 5C students, well outpacing the rest of the contenders. TSL polled 170 students over a two-week period in late August and early September through an online Google form shared on social media.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders placed second with 15 percent of the vote, followed closely by Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, with 14 percent.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang was the preferred choice of 8 percent of students, California Sen. Kamala Harris received 6 percent and Biden, the national frontrunner, had 5 percent. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was the top choice of 2 percent of respondents. No other candidate received more than 1 percent.

The two former Claremont students running for the Democratic nomination don’t seem to have gained much traction at their alma maters. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock CM ’88 and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson, who attended Pomona for two years, were each the top choice of 1 percent of respondents. 

Pomona College politics professor and department chair Susan McWilliams said she was unsurprised by Warren’s dominance in the poll, given the demographics of 5C students.

“These results are largely in line with national trends, with Warren and Sanders appealing disproportionately to young voters and college-educated liberals (particularly white college-educated liberals),” McWilliams said in an email to TSL.

 But she cautioned about drawing too many conclusions from a poll conducted so early on in the presidential primary process.

“People at the 5Cs and beyond are still likely to shift allegiances, or consider shifting allegiances, as the race develops over the next year and two months,” McWilliams said.

About 80 percent of respondents characterized their political views as liberal or left-wing in some respect, while 16 percent said they were moderate. No one identified as conservative or selected a Republican nominee for president. (Poll options did not include Mark Sanford, who recently entered the Republican primary field.)

Though Warren and Sanders won big among liberal respondents, Warren only scored 7 percent of moderates, and none of them picked Sanders — possibly a reflection of those two candidates’ more left-wing ideologies. Self-described moderates were much more likely to pick Buttigieg or Yang.

Warren fared significantly better among white respondents (51 percent of them chose her) than non-white respondents (31 percent). She also performed much better with women (54 percent) than men (25 percent), although the plurality of men went for Warren. Fifty-eight percent of respondents were female and 61 percent were white.

Gender variant/non-conforming/questioning students, which comprised four percent of respondents, also selected Warren at the highest rate and Sanders second. 

TSL will be polling students again throughout the semester to get a sense of how opinions change and whether the fall’s Democratic debates alter perceptions of candidates.

All numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number.

This story was last updated Sept. 12 at 4:51 p.m.

A woman in a purple jacket speaks into a microphone
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is polling well ahead of the other candidates in TSL’s poll of 170 5C students. Courtesy: Edward Kimmel
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