This election year is the first year in which many Butler students will be able to vote.
Young voters heavily influenced the 2008 presidential election, which had the second-largest turnout of youth voters in American history, according to a study by Hans Meyer, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Missouri.
Without much world experience, young voters rely on media and their families to develop political experience, a process called political socialization, according to Meyer’s paper.
“At this point in life, I think a lot of people have been influenced by their parents,” freshman Caroline Stark said. “They haven’t experienced enough to understand how things work best.”
Stark is in adjunct professor JoAnna Brown’s Introduction to U.S. Politics class and has learned about different political beliefs in it.
A definite association exists between students wanting to be politically involved and having politically-involved parents, according to Meyer’s report.
Stark said she grew up with parents who she described as very conservative. As she got older, she said she would have political discussions with her dad.
“He let me think, and he asked me questions and let me kind of form my own opinion,” she said. “We have similar views, but I don’t always agree with everything that he thinks.”
Stark said she stays informed now more than ever because it is an election year. She said she formed her opinion based on personal experience and other sources besides her father.
“I looked back, and history is a good indication of what works and what doesn’t,” she said.
Students are more likely to have the same party identification as their parents, regardless of their stance on various issues, said a report from the University of South Carolina Aiken.
In sophomore James Schubert’s case, he grew up with one Democrat and one Republican parent. Until a few years ago, they wouldn’t share their opinions with him, he said. His opinions come more from his life experiences and observations of his family.
“They go to work every day, they try to save up, and life just gets in the way,” he said. “My experiences have conditioned me to prefer equality more than efficiency.”
Personal experience with friends also influences his opinions on social issues, Schubert said. His experience watching friends struggle with being homosexual and being part of the church led him to feel strongly about gay rights.
Still, Schubert said he does not identify himself as completely liberal.
“I’ve definitely remained very centrist,” he said. “I like to think of myself as a moderate.”
In Stark and Schubert’s courses, they have experienced a variety of people from different places on the political spectrum.
“I’ve understood more since I’ve come to college,” Stark said. “But I wouldn’t say that my beliefs have changed in any direction.”