Parker Humphreys campaigning last ThursdayYutong Cai

Varsity’s poll of students has CUSU presidential candidate Edward Parker Humphreys as the clear favourite over current CUSU Access Officer, Shadab Ahmed, as voting closes at 5pm today.  

Of the 664 respondents, almost two thirds (60.4%) said that they would be supporting Parker Humphreys, compared to just over a quarter (26%) who favoured Ahmed. The remaining 13.6% of respondents voted to either Re-Open Nominations, were undecided or preferred not to say.

Last year’s Varsity poll was correct in predicting that Siyang Wei would win on first-preference votes, but the factor of second-preference votes changed the final results, with Evie Aspinall taking the lead. Without a third candidate this year, it is likely that these poll results will more accurately predict the outcome of the elections.

If Varsity’s poll is correct and Parker Humphreys’ bid for CUSU president is successful, he will be the third Jesus College JCR president to take the CUSU crown in four years, following on from Daisy Eyre and Amatey Doku. Including Evie Aspinall, he would also be the fourth HSPS student in as many years.

On Tuesday, Ahmed received a formal warning from the Elections Committee after he liked a promotional post for his campaign on a Christ’s College Freshers 2018 Facebook page. He had also received a prior reprimand for announcing his candidacy for the role before campaigning opened via his Facebook story, but following prompt removal of the material he was not issued with a formal warning at the time.

Collegiate support

Both candidates saw significant support from within their own college. 83.3% of Jesus students who responded to the poll said that they would be voting for Parker Humphreys, while Ahmed can hope to receive a more modest 68.9% of the vote from Christ’s.

The highest response rate in the poll came from Newnham college, where Parker Humphreys received 76.4% of the vote compared to just 20% for Ahmed. Besides the candidates’ own colleges, the next highest turn out was for Queen’s, where 61.8% of respondents voted for Parker Humphreys and 23.5% for Ahmed.

17 colleges had over 20 responses to the poll – in all of these, besides Christ’s, Parker Humphrey’s was the preferred candidate, gaining over 50% of the vote in 12 of them. Within these colleges, polling suggests that Ahmed is not attracting more of the vote than his rival at any college other than his own.

Of these top respondents, Peterhouse had the highest rate of students choosing to re-open nominations, with 17.2% opting for this and a further 10.3% indicating that they were still undecided.

In the election itself, Jesus College has the highest turnout, with 42.9% of its students having voted as of 7pm yesterday evening. Assuming the vote-split roughly correspond to Varsity’s poll results, this indicates a strong turnout in support of Parker Humphreys. Jesus’ turnout is followed by Robinson, St Catherine’s and Newnham, with Ahmed’s college Christ’s only coming in fifth with a turnout of 31.3%.

Of the top ten colleges who have voted so far, all but Christ’s show a strong preference for Parker Humphrey’s in the Varsity poll. 56.3% of respondents from Trinity Hall and 58.1% from Downing said that they would be voting for Parker Humphreys, with results from the other seven suggesting well over two-thirds of students would be voting for the Jesus student.

Almost twice as many Jesus students have voted as Christ’s students, at 406 and 216 students respectively. However, there is still time for this to change – last year, 37.4% of students at Pembroke, Evie Aspinall’s college, had voted 24 hours before the close of the ballot, and her victory was partially credited to a high Pembroke turnout.

Last year, the final voter turnout in the CUSU Presidential election was 20.9%, a drop on the previous year’s figure of 22.5%. Following Aspinall’s campaign pledge to change disenfranchised students attitudes towards CUSU and its democracy, it remains to be seen if her work will have a real impact on the proportion of those actively engaging in student politics. There was a drop in student participation in the Varsity poll from over 700 students in 2018 to 664 this year.

Men more likely to RON

The gender balance in responses to Varsity’s poll was fairly equal, with 47% of respondents identifying as female and 45% identifying as male, while 1% of respondents identified as non-binary and 7% chose not to say.


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Both candidates saw a small difference in terms of their support by male and female respondents, with 44.5% of those favouring Ahmed identifying as female and 51.5% identifying as male. This trend was reversed for those supporting Parker Humphreys, whose supporters were 51.4% female and 40.2% male.

Edward Parker Humphreys received more support from students identifying as non-binary or agender, who constituted 1.25% of his polling success compared to the 0.6% of Ahmed’s supporters.

Of those who indicated they would prefer to re-open nominations, a huge 66.7% identified as male compared compared to just 17.8% as female, with a further 13.3% of these students preferring not to indicate their gender identity.

What does this all mean for the result?

Despite showing a clear lead in Varsity’s poll, a win for Parker Humphreys is by no means guaranteed, with voting not closing until 5pm today. In the final hours of campaigning both candidates will likely be ramping up their efforts in an attempt to secure the last critical votes.

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