Malvern students identify overwhelmingly Republican, survey finds


Chris Abbott

It’s no secret that Malvern Prep leans to the right, but how did this happen?

MP-Student-Political-LeaningsWith the 2016 Presidential election coming up, most students at Malvern are in agreement that a Republican candidate is the best option for the position.

Senior Marty McGuckin has associated himself with the Republican party for as long as he can remember.

“In fourth grade I remember my dad was talking about the election in 2008,” McGuckin said. “I kind of bought into that and I got really into what the party is all about.”

McGuckin’s parents are both members of the Republican party, and he said that it had a direct influence on him growing up.

“As I got older I started watching all the different news channels and was getting information about politics, so I can definitely say that I’m happy with my decision to be a Republican,” McGuckin said.

57% percent of 110 Malvern students surveyed, identify as Republicans, while 77% percent of the same 110 students’ parents are Republicans. The correlation is no coincidence, as a recent Gallup Youth Survey has indicated. Around 7 in 10 teens (71%) say their social and political ideology is about the same as their parents.

“I think most kids through their high school years tend to reflect what their parents believe. I think that was true of me too.”

“I think kids are very susceptible to what their parents tell them, especially younger kids like freshmen,” senior Brendan Mullen said. “I think they tend to take their parents’ word as law.”

In the same survey, 42% of Malvern students said that the reason for choosing their party was because of their parents, while 19% said that it was because of watching the news.

Science teacher Captain Robert Boyce thinks that having such a lop-sided viewpoint on politics isn’t such a good thing.

“Schools, including Malvern, do not present a balanced approach to the political situation,” Boyce, who is registered Republican, said. “I would like students to pick a party based on the analysis that they themselves have done.”

“I think that being Independent is a very smart pick, a lot of people just blindly vote to one side.”

Boyce has been a member of the Republican party since 1972. Boyce’s parents were originally Democrats, living in the heavily Democratic area of Upper Darby, but switched to the Republican party in 1972.

“I only vote for the people I think would do the best job,” Boyce said.

Jon Heisler ’12 is studying History and Education at Mount St. Mary’s University. He said that he chose his party based on the cornerstone of Republican ideals – states’ rights.

“I think their focus on small local intervention is the biggest difference I see between the two parties,” Heisler said. “That’s probably the reason most Republicans including myself chose this party.”

But how do Malvern parents choose their political party? Why are most parents Republican? Heisler thinks he has the answer.

“Republicans tend to come from upper-middle class families, and those families tend to have a tradition of being Republican,” Heisler said.

History teacher Robert Colameco is a registered Democrat and his political awakening was similar to many Malvern students’, in that he chose the same party that his parents were.

“I think most kids through their high school years tend to reflect what their parents believe,” Colameco said. “I think that was true of me too.”

Of the 110 Malvern students who participated in the survey 7% of those identified as Democrats.

“My advice to voters would be to find out where candidates on both sides stand,” Colameco said. “I recommend them to listen to the radio and read the newspaper so they can really think about what they’re hearing from both sides.”

Both Colameco and Boyce seem to agree on one thing despite their political differences. They think that students should be presented with Republican and Democratic sides equally, rather than being constantly surrounded by Republican or Democratic voices alone.

The Republican voice at Malvern is without a doubt a strong one. Junior Tommy Pero recently started The Young Republicans Club, with Boyce serving as the club’s proctor.

“We’re looking to have a group of kids on campus who identify with the Republican party, but Democrats are also welcome to join,” Pero said. “I’m sure we’ll have a lot of student interest.”

Maybe some of that student interest stems from political conversations at home.
“Every time there is a debate or something is going on in the news, politics are brought up,” senior Evan Tate said. “So I would say I discuss politics pretty often.”

According to the previously mentioned survey 34% said politics is “often” discussed at home, while 51% said “sometimes.”

A recent study by The British Journal of Political Science focuses on how early political socialization prompts parent-child dissimilarity. The study proposes that children who come from homes where politics is a frequent topic of discussion are more likely to talk about politics once they leave home, exposing them to new viewpoints. Some may even switch parties.

Boyce said that the only reason he’s registered as a Republican is so that he is eligible to vote in the Republican primary.

“Besides the fact that I’m technically registered Republican, I consider myself a true Independent,” Boyce said.

Independents at Malvern account for 17% of those that answered the poll, bringing forth the question: How did they choose their political party?

“I think that being Independent is a very smart pick, a lot of people [Republicans or Democrats] just blindly vote to one side,” Brendan Mullen, registered Republican, said. “I think Independents look at the candidates individually rather than the party and that’s pretty smart.”

Of the independents who answered the poll, 58% had either an Independent parent, or a household with one Republican parent and one Democratic parent. It has been speculated by The British Journal of Political Science that those who gather information from both parties, or grow up with Independent parents, are more likely to become Independent.

Senior Marty McGuckin, registered Republican, has a different viewpoint on those who identify as Independent.

“The people who claim they’re Independent I think are really just Democrats who think that other kids [Republicans] at Malvern won’t like them because of their beliefs,” McGuckin said. “And they are too shy to say they’re Democrat or they’re disappointed that they’re not Republican.”

Heisler thinks that Independent voters are likely to eventually choose a party.

“Having that many independents [at Malvern] I think is just the element of uncertainty for students,” Heisler said. “I would expect that in years to come much more will go to a democratic standpoint rather than staying independent.”

Seniors will be voting in the upcoming Presidential election, so it is important to pay attention to politics in the upcoming months and find out where one stands. Heisler has some words of wisdom for new voters.

“The person who’s in charge will create the environment you live in after college,” Heisler said. “Think about what you want to do four years down the line, think about how you want to live, and think about which one of these candidates will cause the world you want the most in four years.”