While navigating the more traditional demands of undergraduate life — papers, problem sets, friendships, and extracurriculars — the Class of 2022 lived through extraordinary political disruption in the United States, including the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 presidential election, and a global reckoning with systemic racism.
Like previous classes, the majority of this graduating class identified as progressive and affiliated with the Democratic party; they were deeply critical of former President Donald Trump and the Trump administration’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, seniors were more split on foreign policy and many domestic policy issues.
Fifty-five percent of respondents reported that they were registered with the Democratic Party; just four percent were registered Republicans. Fourteen percent were registered as independent, and roughly a quarter were not registered with any political party.
A smaller percentage of male respondents — 49 percent — reported being registered Democrats than female and genderqueer/nonbinary respondents, at 61.5 percent and 64.3 percent, respectively.
More than one in four — 27 percent — surveyed seniors identified as holding “very progressive” political views, an increase from the one in five who said they held those views prior to attending Harvard. While 44 percent identified as “progressive” coming into freshman year, 41 percent said their political views are “progressive” now.
Few members of the graduating class identified as conservatives – just 4 percent said their political views were conservative and 2 percent replied “very conservative,” compared to 7 and 2 percent, respectively, freshman year. Roughly a quarter – 23 percent – of respondents identified themselves as moderates both prior to and after attending Harvard.
Harvard seniors largely socialize with people who share their political views. Ten percent of respondents said that all of their closest friends share their political views, and more than half — 52 percent — reported that most do. A third said that some share their political beliefs.
Ninety-three percent of respondents viewed former President Donald J. Trump unfavorably, a nearly identical figure to the 94 percent of the Class of 2021 with the same views.
Roughly half — 52 percent of respondents — viewed President Joe Biden favorably, and 30 percent viewed him unfavorably. Biden’s favorability dropped significantly in the past year; two-thirds of Class of 2021 viewed Biden favorably.
Seniors were similarly split on the Biden administration’s handling of the pandemic. Forty-six percent of respondents approved of Biden’s response to Covid-19, and 30 percent disapproved. Respondents overwhelmingly — 86 percent — disapproved of how the Trump administration handled the pandemic; just 3 percent approved. They were largely supportive of Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony S. Fauci, who has been a face of the Covid-19 response for both presidential administrations. Sixty-nine percent of respondents viewed Fauci favorably, while 13 percent viewed him unfavorably.
Seniors were more divided on foreign policy issues relevant to the last four years. Forty-five percent of respondents approved of the international response to the war in Ukraine, and 24 percent disapproved. Similarly, 43 percent approved of the U.S. decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in August 2021; 22 percent disapproved. Thirty-four percent of respondents favorably viewed the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement; 21 percent disapproved. The Crimson Editorial Board recently endorsed BDS, drawing backlash from campus Jewish groups and some faculty and alumni.
Domestically, surveyed seniors overwhelmingly supported anti-police brutality protests and legislation targeting anti-Asian hate crimes, at 77 percent and 78 percent of respondents, respectively. Fifty-four percent of respondents favorably viewed defunding or abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement; 20 percent disapproved. More than half — 55 percent — supported the Green New Deal, a set of environmental proposals championed by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), while 14 percent disapprove. Seventy-eight percent of respondents supported the #MeToo movement, and 8 percent disapprove; 88 percent of female respondents said they viewed it favorably, compared to 66 percent of male respondents.
Seniors also weighed in on recent controversies involving social media platforms. Fifteen percent of respondents said they approve of Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter, but 56 percent disapproved. Sixty-eight percent approved of some social media platforms’ decisions to remove or restrict Trump’s access to the platform, and 15 percent disapproved.
More than half of respondents — 56 percent — said they felt the country is “off on the wrong track.” Fourteen percent felt things are “generally headed in the right direction.” Thirty percent said they were unsure of their answer.