New Poll of College Students Shows Deepening Political Divides

Close to half of incoming college sophomores said they would not date or live with someone who votes differently.

Published September 2, 2022

Edited by Alex Pasquariello
New Poll of College Students Shows Deepening Political Divides
Student Voting
Photo by SUZANNE CORDEIRO/Contributor / AFP / Getty Images

  • NBC News/Generation Lab surveyed 1,077 rising college sophomores from two- or four-year institutions in early August.
  • About half of students would not live with or date someone who supported the opposite presidential candidate.
  • Students are concerned about inflation, abortion rights, and the climate.

Second-year college students are pretty pessimistic about the future of the country and are ready to vote in the midterm elections, a new NBC News/Generation Lab poll found.

NBC News/Generation Lab surveyed 1,077 rising college sophomores from two- or four-year institutions in early August. Here's a snapshot of its findings.

Politics Is Impacting College Students' Relationships

Almost half of those surveyed said they would probably or definitely not choose to room with someone who supported the opposing presidential candidate in 2020.

Likewise, more than half of those who identify as women said they would not room with someone who supported a different candidate in the last presidential election, compared to less than one-third of those who identified as male.

Among Democratic respondents, 62% said they would not room with someone who supported the opposite candidate, while 28% of Republican respondents said they would not.

Over half of all respondents also said they would probably or definitely not go on a date with someone who supported the opposing candidate during the 2020 election.

Additionally, over half of those surveyed said they disapproved or strongly disapproved of the way Joe Biden is handling the presidency, although 42% said they approved or strongly approved.

Among Democratic voters, less than one-third of respondents said they wanted Biden to run for a second term in 2024, however, among Republican voters, 57% said they wanted former President Donald Trump to run again.

College Students Say They'll Vote In Midterm Elections

Some of the top issues on students' minds when voting for candidates for federal office included abortion, inflation, and "rights."

An overwhelming number of respondents said they were extremely or quite personally concerned about the price of gasoline, rent, and food. The majority also agreed that abortion should be legal in all cases (49%), or most cases (33%). However, over two-thirds of students agreed that they would probably or definitely not consider changing colleges if the state where they went to school did not provide abortions

Although young people are statistically less likely to vote, 72% of respondents said that they "probably will" or were "absolutely certain" they would vote in the 2022 midterm elections in November.