Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Young Voters in 2018

If you haven't taken a look yet at the Harvard Institute of Politics poll of 18-29 year-olds, it's worth checking out. The finding that has gotten the most attention is the relatively high level of enthusiasm expressed for voting this cycle by young voters. But there's a lot of other interesting stuff besides, including some for you democratic socialism fans:
"Young Americans are significantly more likely to vote in the upcoming midterm elections compared to 2010 and 2014. Overall, 40 percent report that they will "definitely vote" in the midterms, with 54 percent of Democrats, 43 percent of Republicans and 24 percent of Independents considered likely voters. As young Republicans have become more engaged, the preference among likely voters for Democrats to control Congress has decreased from a 41-point advantage in the IOP April 2018 poll to a 34-point lead today (66%-32%).
President Trump's job approval among young Americans stands at 26 percent, with no statistical difference between all Americans under 30 and likely voters. Eleven percent (11%) reported that they are "sure to" re-elect the President in 2020 if he is on the ballot, eight percent (8%) indicate that there is "a good chance," nine percent (9%) say that it is "possible," nine percent (9%) say it is "unlikely," and 59 percent say they "will never" vote for him.
The IOP poll, the 36th release in a series dating back to 2000, also indicates strong levels of support among young Americans under 30 for a federal jobs guarantee (56% support, 63% among likely voters), eliminating tuition and fees at public colleges and universities for students from families that make up to $125,000 (56% support, 62% among likely voters), and for Single Payer Health Care (55% support, 67% among likely voters)....
When only likely voters are polled, we find slightly more support for democratic socialism (53%) than capitalism (48%); socialism trails both by a significant margin (39%)."
My, my, now I would not have predicted that last finding. But before we conclude that today's youth are ready to socialize the means of production, I think we should more reasonably interpret this as indicating there is a phrase--"democratic socialism"--that currently sounds good to lots of young people, even if they don't have a clear idea of what it really means. And if they do, it's probably a lot closer to standard social democratic ideas than more radical notions that are sometimes associated with democratic socialism.
Still--it's pretty amazing that there is this level of positive response. Clearly, considering an alternative to today's model of capitalism has become a quite legitimate view among those under 30. And that's basically a very good thing.
The other thing I'll say about this poll is that I looked at the age breakdown on various questions in the poll, which allow you to compare the responses of 18-24 year olds and 25-29 year olds. On key questions like party identification, midterm voting preference and views of Trump there's very little difference between the older and younger group. This is important since it indicates that the youngest Millennials plus the first batch of Post-Millennials (half of the 18-24 group) are no less liberal politically than the older Millennials who have exhibited such distinctly progressive tendencies. That in turn means that there will be no let-up for the Republicans as younger generations continue to replace older ones in the electorate.

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