The Graduating
Class of


by the numbers

The Class of 2018 was halfway through college when President Donald Trump was elected, and survey results indicate a class unhappy with the current administration and worried for the nation’s future. While not quite suggesting a “Kremlin on the Charles,” the survey results reveal a class of largely left-leaning Hillary Clinton voters who support increased gun control, protections for undocumented immigrants, and former president Barack Obama. But over a third of respondents also disapprove of the Democratic Party, and two-thirds said they had withheld opinions in class out of fear of offending their peers.

To the Left

Nearly two-thirds of surveyed seniors identified themselves as “liberal” or “very liberal,” a figure roughly in line with previous years. Eleven percent called themselves “conservative” or “very conservative,” while 23 percent identified as political moderates.

  • Surveyed women were significantly more likely to identify themselves as liberal: 73 percent said so, compared to 56 percent of male respondents. Nine percent of female and 13 percent of male respondents identified themselves as conservatives.
  • Eighty-nine percent of respondents who voted in the 2016 election said they voted for Clinton while three percent said they voted for Trump. Nationwide, Clinton claimed 48.2 percent of the popular vote to Trump’s 46.1 percent.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, a majority of respondents—56 percent—said that “most” of their friends shared their political beliefs. Seven percent of seniors surveyed said that all of their closest friends shared their views, while 34 percent reported that some did, and three percent that none did.
  • Forty-four percent of seniors surveyed said they are registered Democrats. Seven percent said they were registered Republicans, and 18 percent that they were registered independents.

According to the survey results, the senior class has become more liberal on the whole during its time at Harvard. Eighteen percent of those surveyed said they identified as “very liberal” before coming to Harvard, compared to 25 percent who said the same now. Meanwhile, 14 percent of respondents said they called themselves “conservative” before coming to Harvard, while nine percent identify as such now.

An Embittered Class

As they prepare to depart campus, members of the Class of 2018 generally share a gloomy outlook about the direction the country is headed: 72 percent of respondents said they believe the United States is on the wrong track, while just 10 percent said it is going in the right direction.

Much of their apprehension has to do with the occupant of the Oval Office. Ninety percent of surveyed students reported having an unfavorable opinion of President Donald Trump, while just six percent of respondents said they have a favorable opinion of the president. Moreover, 73 percent of respondents said they have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican-controlled Congress.

  • Men and varsity athletes were more likely to support Trump: 14 percent of those surveyed who were varsity athletes for all four years at Harvard had a favorable opinion of him, compared to 5 percent of those surveyed who have never played a varsity sport.
  • Ten percent of men surveyed said they viewed Trump favorably, compared to 2 percent of women surveyed.
  • Sixteen percent of respondents who said they had been members of male final clubs or fraternities said they held favorable views of Trump.
  • While campus is largely left-leaning, only 48 percent of seniors surveyed said they have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party, while 37 percent said they have an unfavorable opinion. The Republican party is viewed favorably by 6 percent of respondents, and unfavorably by 84 percent.
  • Eighty-six percent of surveyed seniors are in favor of increased gun control, while 80 percent are in favor of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, also known as DACA.
  • Former President Barack Obama holds an 85 percent approval rating among surveyed seniors.
  • Forty-six percent of seniors surveyed said they viewed Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible links between the Trump campaign and foreign entities favorably, while 11 percent said they disapproved of it. Forty-two percent said that they either had no opinion on the topic or not enough information to form one.
  • Respondents were roughly split on their opinions about Trump’s recent foreign policy moves on North Korea, with 25 and 24 percent noting favorable and unfavorable views, respectively. Twenty-nine percent said they did not have enough information on the subject.

Classroom Politics

Two-thirds of surveyed seniors said they had at some point chosen not to express an opinion in an academic setting during their time at Harvard out of fear that it would offend others.

  • 78 percent of registered Republicans said they had withheld opinions in class, compared to 59 percent of registered Democrats and 73 percent of registered Independents.

Forty-seven percent of students surveyed believe that faculty should included warnings in their syllabi when their courses cover sensitive material, while 36 percent believe that they should not. That’s a marked uptick from previous years—around 40 percent of the Class of 2017 supported content warnings, and 31 percent of the Class of 2016 did.

  • Fifty-nine percent of surveyed students who identified as liberal support warnings for sensitive material, compared to 23 percent of respondents who identified as conservative.