Two issues stoke students' fear more than any others. Both climate change and gun violence resonated with students as the biggest threats facing the United States. Furthermore, WBRU/College Reaction's latest polling found that students revel Democratic neophytes as party tastemakers.

Here's what we learned

1. Students think climate change and gun violence are the biggest threats facing the United States

• 51% cited climate change as the biggest threats to the US

• 20% cited gun violence as the biggest threats to the US

2. Students are split on the ideological leader of the Democratic party

• 30% consider Joe Biden to be leader

• 25% consider Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to be leader

• 22% consider Bernie Sanders to be leader

• 21% consider Nancy Pelosi to be leader

Here's the state of play:

Environment: Despite the stalled momentum of environmental legislation, the Green New Deal is a major flash point for the climate change battle. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Rhode Island's Sheldon Whitehouse have both aimed to keep climate change top of mind for Democrats.

Gun reform: Similarly, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut has spearheaded the charge for gun control - particularly since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2013. Murphy will be publishing a book in the coming year on gun violence as he advocates for stronger gun control in the Senate.

• Legislation update: HR.8 requires universal background checks on all gun purchases. The bill passed the House and is waiting for a vote in the Senate.

WBRU/College Reaction Poll, n=515 | August 2nd-3rd | m.o.e +/- 4%

1. Who do you view as the ideological leader of the Democratic party?

  • Biden: 30%
  • AOC: 25%
  • Bernie: 22%
  • Pelosi: 21%
  • Schumer: 2%

2. What is the biggest threat facing the United States?

  • Climate change: 51%
  • Gun violence: 20%
  • Terrorism: 6%
  • Technology: 5%
  • Nuclear War: 4%
  • Globalization: 4%
  • China: 3%
  • Russia: 3%
  • Iran: 1%
  • North Korea: 1%

3. Do you think Donald Trump should be indicted when he leaves office?

  • Yes: 59%
  • No: 41%


Data in this report are generated from a poll conducted between August 2nd-3rd, 2019. A total of 511 panelists participated in the poll. The margin of error for the full sample is +/- 4 points

College Reaction’s polling is conducted using a demographically-representative panel of college students from around the country. The surveys are administered via college e-mail address to ensure current enrollment in a four-year institution. The target population for the general population sample was students currently enrolled in accredited 4-year institutions in the US.

Respondents in this poll were randomly selected from a ~10,000 respondent database, which aims to mirror the broader college demographic from a racial, geographic and political standpoint. Results are weighted to mirror race and gender statistics of the college demographic as defined by the National Center for Education statistics.

College Reaction sends the survey to the randomly-generated sample of students via email. The email asks the respondent to complete the attached survey. Student typically have 24-48 hours to fill out the given survey.


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