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This election season, interns for the American Democracy Project, in affiliation with the department of political science at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, formulated a poll given to a random sample of students.

Foremost in the minds of the interns was figuring out which candidates were “winning the campus.” They asked questions about the voting preferences of the respondents.

“This is a great chance for students to ‘learn by doing,’” Jim Krueger, political science internship coordinator, said. “The students figure out how to ask unbiased and meaningful questions, they determine whether they have a good cross-section of our student population, they calculate results and interpret findings, and then present these results in the form of a press release.”

Results showed that more respondents describe themselves as “moderate” than any other choice along a range of options running from “very conservative” to “very liberal.” Self-described moderates comprise 27.7 percent of the 230 respondents.

The remaining results from UW Oshkosh students describing themselves in the poll were 11.2 percent as “very conservative,” 18.7 percent as “conservative,” 25 percent as “liberal” and 12.1 percent as “very liberal.”

“What this tells us is that we probably have a fairly accurate cross-section of the college campus as a whole, even if we can’t be sure because of the relatively small sample size,” Braden Frederickson, American Democracy Project intern, said.

There are candidates in specific races with clear leads in this poll, yet enough of the students are undecided to make each race a tossup, including “low information elections” for State Assembly and the U.S. House of Representatives.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett was endorsed by 36.1 percent and Republican Scott Walker by 30.4 percent of the students polled. More than 25 percent of these students said they don’t know who they will vote for or will vote for another candidate.

Incumbent Senator Russ Feingold leads in the U.S. Senate race with 48.3 percent of students saying they would vote for him if the election were to be held today. Challenger Ron Johnson received 32.2 percent of the votes, with nearly 20 percent undecided or favoring another candidate.

Republican U.S. Representative Tom Petri and Democratic State Assembly Representative Gordon Hintz outpace their challengers, Joe Kallas and Jonathan Krause, respectively, in the poll. The poll results show neither Petri nor Hintz should rest easy that they have won over UWO students. A greater percentage of poll respondents say they do not know who they will vote for than the percentage who says they will vote for the incumbent.

The American Democracy Project interns also have been registering their fellow students to vote and organizing civic awareness events, like a debate between Hintz and Krause and another pitting UWO’s College Republicans against the College Democrats.

“This is a great example of how our students are engaged in the community,” Carleen Vande Zande, assistant vice chancellor of curricular affairs and student academic achievement, said. “These students provide their peers with models of what it means to be a good citizen.”

The interns’ work does not end with the election. They are organizing a “State of the State” summit for Nov. 30, assembling a bipartisan group of state legislators who will discuss their vision for Wisconsin’s future.

The American Democracy Project encourages dialogue between these legislators, our students and the community.

David Siemers, political science, submitted this announcement. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to contribute calendar items, campus announcements and other good news to UW Oshkosh Today.

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