As the United States debates on who to choose as the next President, the MBA students of Harvard Business School (HBS) have a clear favorite: Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 82% in the student population, according to The Harbus’ pioneering electoral poll. Clinton tops Trump with 85% to his 3% support among Harvard MBA first-year students. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson has 10% support, followed by Green Party nominee Jill Stein at 2% support. American and international students did not show a statistically significant difference in their preferences. These results stand in stark contrast against the national mood, where 45% of U.S. voters would vote for Clinton and 40% for Trump (as of September 2016, 2 months before the US presidential elections).
Four key factors contribute to Clinton’s lead amongst Harvard MBA students.
First, Obama has a very high approval rating among Harvard MBA students (88%) relative to U.S. voters (52%). Second, the Democratic Party holds more affinity with Harvard MBA students (53%) relative to U.S. voters (36%). Third, a greater percentage of Harvard MBA Democrats support Clinton (94%) than Harvard MBA Republicans support Trump (52%). Fourth, independent students overwhelmingly break for Clinton (80%) rather than Trump (0%).
Harvard MBA students are more socially liberal than U.S. voters.
The majority of students support stricter gun controls (93%, compared with 56% of U.S. voters) and believe that women do not have the same opportunities for achievement that men have (83%, compared with 55% of U.S. voters). Furthermore, Harvard MBA students are thrice as likely to support increased immigration (63%, compared with 21% of U.S. voters). American and international students did not show a statistically significant difference in their preferences.
Harvard MBA students are also more optimistic than U.S. voters.
Harvard MBA students are over twice as likely to believe that life will be better for the next generation of Americans (43%, compared with 21% of U.S. voters). A lower proportion of students think that U.S. race relations are getting worse (43%, compared with 65% of U.S. voters). American students are more optimistic about America’s future and race relations than international students.
Harvard MBA students, like most U.S. voters, believe in fairer wealth distribution but not through taxes.
62% of Harvard MBA students believe that wealth should be more evenly distributed, similar to 63% of U.S. voters. However, only 41% of students support heavy taxes on the rich to redistribute wealth, similar to 45% of U.S. voters. International students were significantly more likely to support the use of taxation than American students.
Overall, these poll results could be attributed to three factors.
Harvard MBA students have higher levels of education, higher levels of household income, and are younger than the general U.S. population. Most Harvard MBA students have work experience in the private sector, and are thus more exposed to workplace issues, international markets, and diverse work teams. First-year Harvard MBA students have also undergone 2 months of daily interactions within 90-student sections, which are sorted for high diversity in nationalities, ethnicities, and experiences.
The Harbus Presidential Election poll was conducted from September 19 to October 3, 2016. 236 first-year Harvard MBA students were surveyed across multiple sections via in-class voting with privacy screens. The data was weighted for nationality and gender. For results based on the total sample of Harvard MBA students, the margin of error is ±5.5% at the 95% confidence level. Credit goes to NBC, Gallup, SurveyMonkey, Steven Shephard of Politico, Josh Lerner, and Ulrike Malmendier for survey design, benchmarks and descriptions.
Jeremy Au spoke at the Institute of Policy Studies’ flagship Singapore Perspectives conference in 2017. A proven entrepreneur, he co-founded Conjunct Consulting which has channeled over $5M of impact consulting services to over 100 social sector organizations in Singapore. Jeremy received his honor B.A. and B.S. at UC Berkeley and MBA from Harvard Business School. Honors include Forbes "30 Under 30" and he podcasts at www.jeremyau.com
Rafael Rivera is an Engagement Manager at McKinsey. Prior to Harvard Business School, Rafael worked for McKinsey & Company in the offices of Mexico City, Mumbai, and Dubai, and for the World Bank in Cambodia. He was the Head Senator of the Harvard Business School Senate and plans to work in the public sector in Mexico some day in the future. He graduated from Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School.