I’m currently fascinated by The Facebook. Rather than being just another Friendster/Myspace clone, TheFacebook is a phenomenon on campus. Exactly why TheFacebook is such a hit remains debatable – but beside the point. In some recent research I completed, I found that nearly 90% of Undergraduates at UNC are on TheFacebook. Rather significant.
One of the interesting ways TheFacebook allows you to describe yourself in your service profile is by political orientation. Allowing students to classify themselves as either Very Liberal, Liberal, Moderate, Conservative, Very Conservative, Libertarian and Apathetic/Other (I merged the last two into one category in a very unscientific manner), you can actually use TheFacebook to begin to develop a political profile of students on campus.
In this first graph (click to see it full-size), the “political orientation” of UNC-Chapel Hill is presented. Males and Females are aggregated together, and the totals are plotted. As you can see, we still live on a liberal campus, but the conservative faction is quite substantial (i.e., not the aggrieved hyper-minority it often presents itself as). Interesting also is the lack of the oft-reported chasm between liberals and conservatives. Given the chance to describe themselves as “very liberal” and “very conservative”, most students choose to describe themselves as liberal, moderate, or conservative. It seems that college students represent a more moderate, centrist bloc than is often reported.
In this second graph, we see a side-by-side comparison of the politcial views of UNC students by gender. Interesting is the tendency of female students to identify as liberal, and the relative equal distribution of male political views. While liberals and moderates outnumber conservatives in each case, a significant percentage of males and females identify as conservative.
While none of this is particularly surprising to me (other than the large conservative faction), it is an interesting insight into the political orientation of UNC students. This may be especially interesting for prof’s who always wondered how their classes were politically oriented.