Getting more young people to vote: Their attitudes and special concerns

by Gary Hirsch - 2 min. read - (reviewed 2020-08-17: 1145 PDT)

Group of young women and a man

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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Young people are especially hard hit by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. While they are less likely to suffer severe consequences of the disease than older people, they are more likely to suffer unemployment and reduced hours and incomes.1 They have every reason to be upset with the Trump administration’s incompetent response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, but they tend to vote in smaller numbers than people in older age groups.2 To reach younger people and encourage them to vote, it’s important to understand their concerns and how their attitudes differ from those in older age groups. The following pair of studies from Pew Research differentiate Millennials (23-39) from older age groups and younger people (GenZ, 18-23) from Millennials as well as older age groups.

Not surprisingly, Millennials have the most progressive attitudes of any of the age groups on such issues as effects of racial discrimination and use of diplomacy instead of military might to maintain peace. They support having a strong government safety net and access to health care for all. They favor an engaged rather than isolationist foreign policy that is considerate of our allies rather than being focused on US self-interest. They believe immigrants strengthen our country, support same-sex marriage, and favor proactive steps for remediating racial discrimination. (For more information, see pewresearch.org3)

As a group, Gen Z (ages 18-23) reported the greatest impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially with regard to job loss and reductions in pay. This age group is more racially and ethnically diverse than older groups and more likely to be children of immigrants. They are on track to be better educated and be engaged in education than previous cohorts moving through that age group. They have the highest rate of disapproval of Trump and greatest likelihood of voting for a Democrat. Even Gen Z’ers who identify as Republicans have more progressive attitudes about things like race than their older Republican counterparts. (For more information, see pewsocialtrends.org4)

Another poll focused on young people aged 18-39 who identify as Democratic or Democratic-Leaning. 61% were Democratic and 39% were Independent. These young people indicate that the Coronavirus is their primary concern. They are even more concerned wiSailing into a stormth how it potentially affects the health of their parents than their own health. Job loss and their ability to pay rent are a close second. Their other major concerns include ending racial discrimination and having access to affordable health care. Concerns about criminal justice reform led 29% of those surveyed to favor defunding police. 18% wanted to see private, for-profit prisons and detention centers eliminated. This age group overwhelmingly favored Joe Biden, but young Black voters were less enthusiastic about him than whites. (For more information, see alliance4youth.wpengine.com5)

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