Ali Belle Hopkins – What Are BYU-Idaho Students’ Beliefs on Important National Issues?

Public Relations Emphasis

Americans are more polarized today than ever before. According to a study done by the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, 73% of Republicans and 74% of Democrats agree with the following statement: The opposing party are generally bullies who want to impose their political beliefs on those who disagree. Not only do most Americans believe those who belong to an opposing party are wrong, but they also believe those people are “bullies”, mentally ill, crazy, and even evil (RankWise, 2022). Another recent study found that 48% of Americans say that knowing a person’s political views told them a lot about whether someone was a good person (Holman, 2022).

With the amount of political polarization in America today, I was interested in finding out what BYU-Idaho students’ beliefs are on some of these important national issues. So, I chose to research this topic and create a presentation of data for my senior class project. I worked closely with my faculty mentor, Lane Williams, throughout the duration of this project. We created a survey, received approval from the Institutional Review Board, and sent it out to a list of 400 BYU-Idaho students via email. We received about a 20% response rate of the 400 students. Then, I analyzed the data and created 11 charts out of it. The remainder of this blog post will be going over those 11 charts, a description of each one, and a time-log of the hours I spent on this project.   

Chart 1

The first question in the survey was: What do you feel is the most important issue facing the United States? Students had the opportunity to type their answer in a blank text-box. This question was strategically placed as first and as a blank text-box, so that the following questions would not give the students any bias as to what they believed was the most important issue facing the United States.

I reviewed each answer individually and then sorted them into categories. As seen in the chart, the highest percentage of students typed answers relating to the economy as the most important issue facing the United States. A few answers in this category included “how expensive it has become to live”, “economy and inflation”, and “fiscal policy”.

The second highest percentage of students typed answers relating to political division. Answers in this category included “inner turmoil between political policies”, “extreme political differences”, and “the widening polarities between political groups”.

The third highest percentage of students had answers that did not fit or were too vague to fit into any of the eight categories. For example, one student answered “gun control”. I could not put gun control in the “Less rights and freedom” category because it was unclear if that person meant they believed we should have more freedom with gun control or less freedom. Answers in the other category ranged from gun control to climate change to abortion laws.

Immorality and hate tied for the fourth and fifth highest percentages of answers. Answers in the category of immorality included “lack of morals” and “an increase in immorality”. Answers in the category of hate included “the normalization of hating others” and “a lack of love and concern for one another”.

Government corruption, misinformation, and less rights and freedom tied for the sixth, seventh, and eighth highest percentage of answers. Answers in the category of government corruption included “corruption and incompetency in the government” and “political corruption”. Answers in the category of misinformation included “the people cannot trust the government or the news”, “censorship in the media and politics”, and “misleading journalism”. Answers in the category of less rights and freedom included “the government taking away our rights” and “less freedom”.

The lowest percentage of students answered in the category of the disintegration of the family. Answers included “the weakening of the family” and “the destruction of family units”.

Chart 2

Next on the survey, students were asked to state the degree to which they agreed or disagreed with a series of 21 statements about current political topics. Students had the option to choose strongly disagree, disagree, somewhat disagree, neither agree nor disagree, somewhat agree, agree, or strongly agree.

For data analyzation purposes, each level of agreement was assigned a number from one to seven. Strongly disagree is one and strongly agree is seven. Using the numbers assigned, we calculated the average level of agreement for each statement. Averages for each statement can be seen in the chart. The higher the number, the more students agreed with the statement. The lower the number, the less students agreed with the statement.

Overall, students agreed most with the statement “Free speech is an important issue,” and least with the statement “The United States did a good job in responding to the COVID-19


Chart 3

After students stated the degree to which they agreed or disagreed with current political topics, they were asked to rank 10 issues facing the United States from most important to least important. As was done in the previous chart, we calculated the average ranking for each issue.

Political contention and corruption ranked as the number one most important issue to BYU-Idaho students with an average ranking of 6.65 out of 10. Big Tech and its influence in our lives ranked as the least important issue with an average ranking of 2.85 out of 10.

Chart 4

Chart 4 is in correlation to chart 3. It shows what percentage of students ranked each issue as the number most important issue. The issue of Big Tech and its influence in our lives is omitted from the chart, as no one ranked it as the number one most important issue.

Chart 5

The end of the survey consisted of four short demographic questions. The first demographic question was about political affiliation. Students were asked to use a sliding scale to rank where they fell in terms of political ideology. A 0 on the scale meant they couldn’t be anymore Republican/Conservative. A 100 on the scale meant they couldn’t be anymore Democrat/Liberal.

Though many students fell in the middle (16% were in between the 40 and 60 marks), we considered all who were in between 0 and 50 as a Republican/Conservative and all who were in between 51 and 100 as a Democrat/Liberal. Using this logic, we found that 79% of BYU-Idaho students are Republican/Conservative whereas 21% are Democrat/Liberal (Margin of Error: 11.5%).

Chart 6

Another one of the survey’s demographic questions was, “What is your gender?”  This question helped us make valuable comparisons between gender and political affiliation. We found that women make up a higher percentage of Democrats on campus then men. However, the percentage of Republican women still greatly outnumber the percentage of Democrat women.

Chart 7

The survey asked students another important demographic question about how frequently they consume the news. This question used a format much like previous questions where students were asked to state the degree to which they agreed or disagreed with statements. Except this time, students had the option to choose very infrequently, infrequently, somewhat infrequently, neither infrequently nor frequently, somewhat frequently, frequently, or very frequently.

We calculated what percent of students answered for each category of frequency. The largest percentage of students, 24%, answered that they consume the news somewhat frequently. The second largest percentage of students, 23%, answered that they consume the news very infrequently.

Chart 8

This chart shows how frequently women consume the news compared to men.  

Chart 9

The last three charts are all regressions comparing how strongly students agree or disagree with a statement to where they are on the political affiliation slider.

Chart 10

Chart 11

Time Spent

DateAmount of TimeTask
9/21/20223 hoursResearching and forming survey questions
9/22/20227 hoursResearching and forming survey questions
9/24/20222 hoursLearning Qualtrics and entering survey in
10/17/20221 hourSubmitting survey to IRB for approval and contacting Susan Ward
10/21/20224 hoursStudied jobs in the public relations industry and worked on a back-up project (in case of the survey not being approved)
10/22/20222 hoursWorked on back-up project
11/5/20222 hoursPracticed using Adobe Illustrator to create charts
11/11/20222 hoursAnalyzing data from survey results
11/13/20227 hoursAnalyzing data and drafting charts
11/14/20227 hoursAnalyzing data and creating charts on Adobe Illustrator
11/15/20227 hoursRevising charts and writing descriptions of charts
11/16/20226 hoursWriting descriptions of each chart and designing trifold for Senior Showcase
Time Log

Total: 50 hours

Works Cited

Works Cited

Homans, Charles, and Alyce Mcfadden. “Today’s Politics Divide Parties, and Friends and Families, Too.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Oct. 2022,

RankWise. “ Website Review.” RankWise SEO, 17 Nov. 2022,