Change and Stability in the Political Ideology of College Students
Erickson, Danielle. “Change and Stability in the Political Ideology of College Students”. BA, Boston College, 2020. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:108791.
Over the past 20 years, there has been a trend in American politics for college graduates to identify with the Democratic party and to fall to the left on the ideology scale. College graduates of today are both more liberal than previous college graduates as well as their contemporary non-college graduate counterparts. Previous research disagrees on what mechanisms are driving this growing education gap in American politics. Some point to selection effects while others argue that college socializes students to move to the left. Using data from the Political Engagement Project (2003-2005), I argue that the process that is occurring is a mix of these two ideas, fitting an Input-Environment-Output model. While college students as a whole do come in leaning to the left, college has a mildly liberalizing effect on students, so that college graduates as a whole exit leaning more to the left than they did when they entered. I also point out some factors which predispose students to ideological change or stability during college.