More than three in four students — 77.2 percent — approve of the way President Obama is handling his job, with 19.8 percent strongly approving and 57.4 percent somewhat approving, according to a recent Herald poll.
The percentage of students who said they approved of Obama is below the percentage of students — 86.1 percent — who reported just before last year's election in last fall's Herald poll that they would vote for him.
Among the remaining students, 11.8 percent said they somewhat disapproved, 4.5 percent said they strongly disapproved and 6.6 percent said they did not know or had no answer.
The Herald poll was conducted from Nov. 2 through Nov. 4 — one year to the day after Obama's election — and has a 3.6 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence. A total of 687 Brown undergraduates completed the poll, which The Herald administered as a written questionnaire to students in the University Mail Room at J. Walter Wilson during the day and in the Sciences Library at night.
Jeremy Feigenbaum '11, president of Brown Democrats and Herald Opinions columnist, said he thinks the poll's numbers reflect the fact that "the president's agenda for health care reform and to increase loans for higher education is vastly popular in the Brown community."
Obama's job approval rating among Brown students is significantly higher than his rating nationally, which is just above 50 percent in recent Gallup polls.
Health care and climate change legislation particularly affect college-age students, Feigenbaum said. Obama's pursuit of such legislation, as well as Brown students' support of a "progressive agenda," makes him especially popular here, Feigenbaum said.
Feigenbaum said the Brown Democrats have been revitalized by Obama's presidency, with increased attendance at meetings and events and an excitement at "just the fact that he's in the White House and the fact that he's pushing this agenda."
College Republicans President Keith Dellagrotta '10 said the reason for Obama's high approval on campus was the liberal leanings of the student body, but he also partly attributed the approval to general student-age attitudes.
"Any student has an idealistic view," he said, and students hope for "health care for all that doesn't cost anything or a perfectly energy-efficient environment. As you grow older, you sort of learn that a lot of those idealistic views you had weren't feasible."
Dellagrotta said student enthusiasm might be down from last fall because many of Obama's campaign promises, such as new policies in the categories of health care, energy and gay rights, have not been implemented yet.
"I realize it's still early in his presidency," Dellagrotta said. "But he had a lot of big promises that he said he was going to get moving quickly."
The results of the Herald poll "bode well for Obama," wrote Wendy Schiller, associate professor of political science, in an e-mail to The Herald. "But the Brown student body is not the set of voters that the president is most afraid of losing. It is the independents and moderates in both parties that the president won votes from in 2008."