The MBA Vote: Trump’s Surprise Standing Among Young Business Professionals

If you took away the tweets and the bombast, Donald Trump would seem to be an ideal candidate for MBA students. He graduated from Wharton, spent his entire life in business, pursues a pro-business agenda, slashes government regulations on corporations, and holds more-conservative views that would seem to be in sync with business students.

But a Poets&Quants survey of MBA students and applicants finds the president is even more unpopular among these young business professionals than he is in current national polls, which have him trailing Joe Biden by 10 to 12 percentage points. In fact, the result of our online survey of registered users is most notable not for who wins the MBA vote in the 2020 election — but rather the overwhelming margin of victory.

Some 68% of the MBA crowd says they will vote or have already voted for Biden, with only 23% voting or planning to vote for President Trump. That is a remarkable 45-point advantage, according to the survey conducted on Friday through Sunday. Some 646 users responded to the survey over the past 48 hours. And if you subtract respondents who are not registered to vote in the election, the margin grows even wider, with 73% in Biden’s corner and 24% favoring Trump, a 49-point difference.

The survey captured the extreme partisanship that has defined American politics in recent years. “All Republicans are canceled,” wrote one respondent. “No one who votes Republican is in my life anymore. They are evil.” Another wrote simply that it was a “terrible idea” to even survey people about their political preferences or their views of the most important issues facing the U.S. today.

SUPPORT FOR BIDEN GREATER THAN IT WAS FOR CLINTON FOUR YEARS AGO

The results show Biden in an even better place than Hillary Clinton had been four years ago. In the 2016 election, Clinton received 64% of the vote from these same young professionals, nine points lower than Biden. Trump received 23% of the vote, roughly the same support he now has among MBA candidates and students.

The difference was made up by votes that went to third-party candidates, supported by 12% of the respondents. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson led the pack of third-party players with 3% of the MBA vote, with write-ins for everyone from Ohio Governor John Kasich and Bernie Sanders to independent candidate David Evan McMullin and Jeb Bush. Nearly 5% of the sample sat the election out altogether, not motivated to vote for Clinton, Trump or any other candidate.

This year, in contrast, only 3% say they will vote for a candidate other than Biden or Trump. Libertarian Party candidate Jo Jorgensen gets the most support among third-party options in 2020, with one percent of the vote, and there are also a few stray votes for Kanye West.

THE THREE MOST PRESSING ISSUES IN THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Asked to name the three most pressing issues in this election, MBA candidates and students put the economy in the forefront, with seven of ten respondents saying the economy was the number one issue. The coronavirus pandemic was next, with 52% of the vote, while leadership was third, with 47% of the respondents identifying this issue. Not far behind, however, were racial issues (41%) and climate control (40%).

One in three respondents (33%) cited international relations, 26% named immigration, and 18% put crime on the list. But there were numerous write-in issues that ranged from healthcare, reproductive rights and gun control to college debt, economic inequality and the Supreme Court.

One respondent put “decency” at the top of the election’s priorities. “Respecting and valuing all Americans and people, whether veterans, Blacks, disabled, women, etc. I just want a decent person who cares about trying to do the right thing. Pretty basic!” Another believed healthcare, universal family leave, and “having a president who believes in science” were the three most important issues.

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