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POLITICS 101

On campus, students of these subjects are by far the least politically engaged

Reuters/Carlos Barria
Tough crowd.
By Amy X. Wang
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy and Higher Education recently scrutinized the voting habits of millions of eligible college students from 2012, hoping to uncover patterns relevant to this year’s presidential election.

Researchers found that college students in the US overall vote at a rate of 45%—but that number swings widely depending on personal details, such as students’ geographic region, ethnicity, and voting method. The data—from 780 US institutions and 7.4 million students—confirms a sadly continuing trend: college students don’t really care about voting in elections.

Some, even less than others.

Humanities majors are more likely to vote than STEM majors, according to the data. Education majors boast the highest voter turnout (55%), with a 20-point margin over mathematics, statistics, or engineering majors (35%). Tufts’ report didn’t delve into the factors behind that discrepancy, though it makes sense that humanities majors—often socially oriented in their academic work, as opposed to focusing on technical skills—may tend to be more engaged on campus than others.

Yet for the 2016 presidential candidates, education majors’ relative enthusiasm for voting is hardly something to cheer about. Considering the US’s 57% voter-turnout rate in general, college kids remain pretty apathetic.

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