2016 Election Polls: Millennials Support 'Counter Culture' Candidates Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders
Millennials, the largest U.S. demographic, are more likely to support Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
Based on polling data conducted by Ipsos for USA Today and Rock the Vote, the largest nonpartisan voter engagement campaign for millennials, today's youths were found to not be as enthusiastic about the 2016 election. Fewer than half of millennial respondents, who identified themselves as either Republican or Democrat, plan to engage in their party's primaries. Among Republican millennials, 33 percent said they intend to vote in the GOP primaries, slightly lower compared to Democrat millennials' 42 percent.
In regards to voting in the general election in November, the expected turnout increased. Although the poll found millennials tend to not think about the general election until the respective Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 60 percent of millennials say they are likely to vote on Election Day.
Despite the lower enthusiasm, 57 percent admitted they are optimistic about the future of the country, and overwhelming numbers have a positive attitude about voting. Voting was considered as a way to have an impact on an issue among 75 percent of millennial survey respondents, while 74 percent said voting is a responsibility and 73 percent stating it's a way to create change in their community.
"I was glad to see that the overwhelming majority of millennials do see voting as a way to have an impact and we couldn't agree more," said Rock the Vote President Ashley Spillane in a statement to Latin Post. "With 2/3 of the largest, most diverse generation in our country intending to vote in 2016, we should see candidates talking more about the issues they care about -- education, gun control, the economy, criminal justice reform."
Among millennials, the top five issues are the economy (35 percent), education (28 percent), foreign policy (25 percent), healthcare (24 percent) and gun laws and its safety (23 percent). With millennial men, immigration tied with healthcare as the fifth most important issue.
On guns, 82 percent of millennials agreed the U.S. should pass background check laws for all gun purchases. Most millennial women agreed on having background check laws and men, 85 percent to 79 percent, respectively. Whether or not stricter gun laws would help prevent mass shootings, millennials showed their differences. With 78 percent, Democratic millennials said stricter gun laws would help prevent mass shootings, but the number dwindled among Republican millennials to 44 percent.
Most millennials, with 68 percent, want criminal justice reform, agreeing that the U.S. should lower prison sentences for individuals convicted of non-violent crimes such as drug possession; this was supported more by white millennials (69 percent) than millennials of color (64 percent).
Millennials are also keeping an eye on terrorism. Slightly less than half (47 percent) said the U.S. should commit to ground troops to combat the Islamic State militant group. More Republican millennials favor boots on the ground, with 69 percent, than 40 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of Independents. Millennials were also more protective of their privacy as only 43 percent were content with the government monitoring email or social media accounts as an approach to combat terrorism.
"The health of our democracy hinges on robust citizen participation," said Spillane. "With so much at stake, we have to prioritize engaging new voters and bring them into the process. Their futures are tied up in every important policy decision being made by Congress and state legislatures. We as a country have work to do to restore this generation's faith that not only is voting a way to make a difference, it is THE way and it really does matter."
Sanders Over Clinton:
Millennials preferred Sanders over Clinton to win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley ranked third with five percent, behind Sanders' 46 percent and Clinton's 35 percent. Among millennials of color, the margin between Clinton and Sanders narrowed to 41 percent and 42 percent, respectively.
In the Republican field, businessman Donald Trump led the competitive GOP field with 26 percent. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was the only other GOP candidate to receive double-digit figures with 11 percent, while Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida ranked third with 9 percent and Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tied at eight percent.
According to the survey, millennials' preference of Sanders and Trump are due to favoring candidates who are considered as "counter-culture" and "outside the system."
"These polling results are important because they show that millennials are optimistic about the future of our country and the power they have to make a difference through voting, even while sometimes frustrated with our current political process. This poll reinforces that young voters have the power to decide the election and the rumors of their disinterest are false. Let this be a lesson to both major parties -- politicians who ignore the youth vote do so at their own peril," added Spillane.
The survey was conducted between Jan. 4-7, with 1,141 millennials, between the ages of 18 and 35, participating.
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