Parents influence student’s political views, some say

While watching the first presidential debate, Stacy Winner, a 20-year-old business junior major at CSU, was hesitant to talk to her father about the issue of taxing big businesses. Like many students, Winner’s parents influence her political beliefs, but she often doesn’t see eye to eye with them.

According to Kyle Saunders, a political science professor at CSU, this is a common occurrence.


“In the last couple of generations, due to societal trends such as the increase of families with mixed partisan identities, as well as the decline of the nuclear family, this has become the less the case,” Saunders said.

Younger voters are less likely to share the same views as their parents, because other political viewpoints are more readily available to students.

“I pay more attention to politics now that I can vote,” Winner said.

She grew up in a mixed partisan family. Her father is a Republican, while her mother is a Democrat. She associates closer with her mother’s ideals than with her father’s. This can cause tension within a household.

“My dad always tries to point out Romney’s great points,” Winner said. “He sees things differently than I do.”

Another CSU student, junior biology major Haley Wilson,  shared a similar experience because she does not harbor the same views as her parents. In her case, both parents are strict Republicans and she comes from Arizona, which often votes Republican in the elections.

“We are always combating ideals and views,” Wilson said. A few issues that they disagree on include: women’s rights, same sex marriage, immigration and healthcare. Wilson used to share her parent’s views until she moved out of their home and to Colorado. Then, she flipped from Republican to a more liberal political stance.

“My dad thinks I am a Democrat because I am in college,” Wilson said.

This tends to happen, especially with college-aged students, according to Saunders. They are released from the bubble of their hometown and their parents’ viewpoints and are introduced to different viewpoints on a variety of issues.

“Students tend to be more liberal in their political belief systems, and are also more likely to identify with the Democratic Party than the Republicans,” Saunders said.


In a study done by Christopher H. Achen of the University of Michigan, he suggests that partisanship is well established because “most parents transmit their party identification to their children.”

“I think it depends on how you are raised,” Winner said.

For example, parents that pushed their own political agenda on their children often have children that accept these ideals as the norm.

Another study by the University of Boulder said children are often subject to “parental transmission of partisanship.” Children often don’t question the ideals passed on to them until much later.

“If you come from a family where politics was discussed at the dinner table and news programs were discussed in an engaged fashion, those children are much more likely to become engaged in politics and pay attention to the news, and in turn have stronger partisan identities,” Saunders said.

City Beat Reporter Amanda Zetah can be reached at