by Christopher Sung ’17
President Trump’s election has sent shockwaves throughout our nation. On Capitol Hill, numerous Republican congressmen have become placed in precarious positions, trying to hold on to their control of the legislative branch of government, while Democratic members of congress have been forced to recover lost ground from a resurgence of the political right. Even across America’s many “meatloaf lines”—the borders that separate red and blue counties—everyday working families, who may have never followed politics closely, are becoming increasingly divided along conservative and liberal identities.
Such increase in political engagement among Americans following the 2016 Presidential Election has become dubbed as the “Trump Effect.” According to numerous news outlets, such as CNN and NPR, the Trump Effect has led to substantial percentage-increases in the number of Americans watching the news or actively participating in political affairs from previous years. Wanting to see whether the Trump Effect applied to students at Sherwood, The Warrior conducted a survey of four randomly selected classrooms to understand students’ levels of political engagement.
Out of 80 responses, 52 students indicated that they are more politically active due to the results of the 2016 Presidential Election. Additionally, when asked to indicate on a scale of one to five—one being political apathetic and five being politically engaged—how politically active they felt, more than 76 percent of students responded with a three or higher.
According to the results of the survey, Sherwood students are more politically engages. However, such increase in political engagement among Sherwood students does not mean that students actually feel political engaged. The results from the survey would indicate that prior to the presidential election, the majority of students were politically apathetic and have just recently become somewhat active in political issues.
Knowledge of Current Events
While The Warrior did not test students’ knowledge of current events in its survey, students self-reported how knowledgeable they felt about recent political issues and where they received their news.
On a scale of one to five—one indicating that a student does not follow current events and five indicating that a student follows current events closely—The Warrior found that almost 89 percent of respondents marked a three or higher. In addition, on the question of where students receive their news, 84 percent of all respondents stated that they obtain their news from social media, while only 24 percent of all respondents—the lowest percentage among all five choices for news sources—said that they receive news from print publications.
In a time when the issue of fake news in regards to social media has become a major dilemma among journalists, the results of our survey do question whether students are getting accurate news and a comprehensive understanding of political matters.
Conclusion: A Fear of Trump
Towards the end of our survey, The Warrior asked whether students currently approve of the Trump administration. An overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that they are worried for the future of the United States under Trump’s administration. Senior Ana Cruz, a current member of Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution political action organization, stated in an extended interview that she felt uncertain about the future of the nation. “I think I’m worried that he’s [Trump] going to ignore many Americans in favor of the blue-collar, white-minority worker that he has in his mind. Like—he’s just going to ignore many issues that affect every other American,” said Cruz.