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Decision 2008

The Knox Community and the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election

Large political buttonThe upcoming 2008 presidential election is commonly viewed to be one of the most important American elections in recent history. With such an important event around the corner, it was impossible for Knox Magazine not to cover it. But how could the magazine report on this issue, especially due to the fact that articles needed to be planned well before both presidential nominees had even been decided?

So, we decided to turn to you -- members of the Knox community -- by means of an Election 2008 survey. After discussing the survey questions with Assistant Professor of Political Science Andrew Civettini, who then sent us to the National Election Studies Guide to Public Opinion and Electoral Behavior for additional information on survey questions, we distributed an Election 2008 e-mail survey in April to more than 8,000 members of the Knox community. The goal of the survey was simply to gauge what the Knox community thinks are the most important issues facing the United States; what qualities people hope to see in the next president; and how engaged our alumni are in this election.

More than 1,300 alumni and friends took our survey. Here's what we found out:

1. What is your gender?

Female - 54.3%
Male - 45.2%

2. When were you born?

1947-1962 - 33.6%
1963-1978 - 23.4%
1931-1946 - 21.5%
1978 or later - 18.5%
1915-1930 - 3.0%

3. Did you vote in the 2004 general election?

Yes - 94.1%
No - 5.2%

4. Did you vote in your state?s most recent presidential primary (or do you plan to vote in your state?s upcoming presidential primary)?

Yes - 77.6%
No - 21.8% 

5. Do you plan to vote in the November presidential election?

Yes - 97.6% 
No - 2.1%

6. Have you gone to any political meetings, rallies, speeches, dinners, or things like that in support of a particular candidate?

No - 71.9%
Yes - 27.8%

7. Have you done any work for one of the parties or candidates?

No - 82.4%
Yes - 16.9%

8. Do you plan to do any work for one of the parties or candidates before November?

No - 75.3%
Yes - 23.7%

9. Have you worn a campaign button, put a campaign sticker on your car, or placed a sign in your window or in front of your house?

No - 61.7%
Yes - 32.2%

10. Have you given money to an individual candidate running for public office?

No - 60.1%
Yes - 39.3

11. Have you given money to a political party during this election year?

No - 80.7%
Yes - 18.9%

12. Generally speaking, do you usually think of yourself as a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent, or what?

Democrat - 55.6%
Independent - 21.2%
Republican - 20.6%
Other - 2.4%

If other, then what?

Libertarian - 8
No party affiliation - 7
Green Party - 5 
Socialist - 4
Conservative - 1
Dumb American Party - 1 
Liberal (Canada) - 1 
Progressive - 1

13. When it comes to politics, what do you usually think of yourself as?

Liberal - 37.0%
Moderate or Middle of the Road - 17.1%
Slightly Liberal - 15.6%
Conservative - 12.1%
Extremely Liberal - 9.9%
Slightly Conservative - 5.7%
Extremely Conservative - 2.0%
Don?t Know - 0.5%

14. What do you believe is the most important issue in the 2008 presidential election?

Economy - 41.8%
Iraq War/National Security - 29.9%
Health Care - 11.8%
Environment - 7.5%
Other - 6.0%
Civil Rights - 2.2%

15. What are the three most important qualities you look for in a president?

Intelligence - 69.5%
Leadership Skills - 65.3%
Integrity - 61.9%
Honesty - 36.6%
Experience - 18.2%
Inspirational - 8.0%
Humility - 6.9%
Empathy - 5.9%
Strong Sense of Faith - 3.8%
Sense of Humor - 2.6%
Loyalty - 1.8%

15a. Other important qualities:

A Plan for our Future
Courage/A spine
Diplomacy/Ability to lead the United States as a member of a community of nations, not the world bully
Ability to surround him- or herself with experts
Environmental focus/Care for our Planet Earth
Common sense
Concern for the poor
Desire to change the status quo
Lack of ties with Big Government and Corporations
Follows Constitutional law exactly
Globalization Consciousness
His or her policies/position on the issues
Patriotism Stubbornness
Science background, not a lawyer
Willingness to address tough issues and engage Americans in solving those issues without pandering
Ignores polls/Willingness to take a position, even if it's unpopular
Learns from mistakes

The National Election Studies Guide to Public Opinion and Electoral Behavior was consulted in the creation of these survey questions. For more information, visit the American National Election Studies website. Special thanks to Assistant Professor of Andrew Civettini for his expertise and guidance.