As the midterms approach, Democrats are underperforming among a voting bloc that supported Barack Obama over Mitt Romney almost 2-to-1 in 2012.
That’s the takeaway from a new online poll of millennial adults conducted by Harstad Strategic Research. The survey found that although more than seven in 10 millennials lean progressive on a host of topics and policies and support a more involved government, only 28 percent said they will “definitely vote” in the 2014 midterm elections.
“That’s a real challenge for Democrats, but also a real opportunity,” said Paul Harstad, of Harstad Strategic Research, during a conference call Thursday regarding the results.
The poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, was conducted March 30 to April 4. Online polls do not provide the same statistical validity as surveys conducted through random landline and cell-phone calling, but they can offer a broad sense of attitudes, particularly with groups like young adults that are difficult to reach through traditional means.
The poll found strong support among millennials for progressive policies. More than 80 percent of respondents favored guaranteeing women equal pay (87 percent); lowering the interest rates on student-loan debt (87 percent); requiring criminal background checks on gun purchases, including those at gun shows (83 percent); and increasing funding for education (82 percent). Equal-pay guarantees and lower interest rates on student loans had strong support even among respondents who identified themselves as Republicans: 83 percent and 84 percent of Republican respondents said they favored those stands, respectively.
A majority of millennials were also likely to say they favor a more involved government. Nearly 60 percent said they preferred the government be “on their side” rather than “off their back,” although political ideology influenced respondents’ views. More than 70 percent of millennials who identified as Democrats said they preferred government on their side, compared with only 50 percent of Republicans. Independents fell in between. Race and gender played a role, too, with nonwhites (66 percent) and women (65 percent) more likely than whites (54 percent) and men (54 percent) to say they preferred a more involved government.
While those results bode well for Democrats, the responses regarding turnout should give them pause. Less than one-third of millennials said they would definitely vote in the 2014 midterms. Among those ages 18 to 23, only slightly more than two-fifths were sure they’d vote. A third of those ages 24 to 31 said they would. The picture is better for the 2016 presidential election: 55 percent of millennials said they would definitely vote then. Again, older millennials were more likely than their younger counterparts to say they’d definitely cast a ballot (59 percent to 49 percent respectively.)
Millennials are most persuaded by policies that promote economic opportunity, according to the survey. Nearly 60 percent of millennials said they found messaging regarding making college and student loans more affordable persuasive; 57 percent said that investing in good jobs and improving K-12 education was a persuasive position; 56 percent said that investing more in community colleges was. Background checks for gun sales and gun shows also had the support of 56 percent of respondents.
Despite the strong support for progressive-policy positions, Harstad said it was possible that there would be more independent voters among millennials compared with older cohorts. “But the independents will probably lean toward the Democrats,” he said. “Given the overwhelming popularity of progressive stands on these issues, it sort of leads them one way.”
The question is if and when young people will show up at the polls to express those views.
What We're Following See More »
Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison is currently the favorite to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and he has confirmed that if he is elected come February, he will resign his seat in Congress. In a statement from Ellison this morning, he says that the Democratic Party needs "a chair with only one full time commitment."
Donald Trump has chosen Gen. James Kelly to be his secretary of homeland security, making Kelly the third general tapped by Trump to serve in his administration. The official announcement is likely to come in the next couple of days. Kelly, who did not endorse Trump during the campaign, "was the commander of U.S. Southern Command until earlier this year."
Iowa Republican Terry Branstad, the longest-serving governor in American history, has accepted President-elect Donald Trump's offer to serve as ambassador to China, Bloomberg reported late Tuesday. Branstad has a longstanding relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and backed Trump during the election. If he's confirmed, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds would become the Hawkeye State's first female governor and could run for a full term in 2018. Iowa does not place term limits on its governors.
"Congressional negotiators released a stopgap spending bill Tuesday night to avert a partial government shutdown at midnight Friday and to fund federal agencies and programs through April 28." The 70-page continuing resolution includes $170 million to aid Flint, Michigan's water supply, and a waiver that would allow Ret. Gen. James Mattis to assume the role of secretary of Defense.