Poll reveals news and parents as biggest influences on students’ political beliefs

By Devynn Harris

AP U.S. Government and Politics teacher Jeff Strickland discusses the presidential election and debate with his class on Monday, Oct. 15. "It's more than teaching [about the elections]," Strickland said. "It's getting their perspective."

Sydney Wilson, JagWire copy editor, Connor Oswald, JagWire reporter

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In a recent JagWire survey, data was collected on students’ candidate preferences for the upcoming election, as well as the greatest influences on students’ political beliefs.

It was found that 87.2 percent of students share political views with their parents, with 40.3 percent citing their parents as having the greatest influence on their political preferences. However, the majority of students cited news as having the greatest influence on their political preferences, with 48.3 percent.

Senior Lexi Riddle has been following the election attentively. She looks carefully at a candidate’s goals for office and the policies they are planning to put into place.

“I do debate, so I have to do lots of research on policy,” Riddle said.

Riddle thinks it is important that students are well informed about political candidates.

“Election years are annoying because so many people are talking who have no clue what they’re talking about,” Riddle said. “A lot of people just watch the debates, but they don’t have the background [to form an opinion].”

Social studies teacher Jeff Strickland agrees with Riddle.

“It’s important for every citizen to be informed about politics,” Strickland said. “It affects their lives more than they know or care to believe.”

In this era it is not hard to find information about the elections and its candidates. Students can find themselves influenced by sources such as friends, family, news networks and the school curriculum.

Strickland advises students to do their own research on political candidates.

“It’s best to look at non-partisan sources, so the information isn’t skewed and so the reader can make their own mind up,” Strickland said.

Senior Taylor Hunter said that his parents were very influential in shaping his own political views.

“I was born into [my political views],” Hunter said. “My dad … has extreme political views and loves sharing them with anyone who will listen, so I hear them all the time.”

Unlike Hunter, senior Ashley Hague and her parents do not discuss politics often.

“We don’t discuss [politics] because we don’t all agree,” Hague said.

Junior Joe Gunter says that, while he has different political views from his parents, they are still able to talk about politics.

“We respect each other’s beliefs,” Gunter said. “We talk about politics, but it’s not really an issue that we have different beliefs.”

Although some students, like Hague and Gunter, don’t necessarily agree with their parents in terms of politics, according to the survey, a majority of students do. Riddle finds that, while she agrees with her mother in certain ways, they still disagree about certain topics.

“It’s funny, because my mom and I often like the same candidates, but we argue about why we like their policies,” Riddle said. “A lot of her Republican views are based on religion, but I try to keep my politics and religion separate.”

Hague said that on top of her parents, living in Kansas has influenced her political views.

“Just growing up where we do [influences us].” Hague said. “It’s a very conservative environment, and my parents are very conservative also.”

Though he shares a political standing with his parents, Hunter believes that people need to form their own opinions about politics.

“Be open minded,” Hunter said. “Don’t just think that you’re a certain political party just because your parents are.”

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