Young vot­ers are look­ing for younger lead­ers

Wisconsin Gazette - - Spot­light -

Young peo­ple are look­ing for a change this elec­tion sea­son — a gen­er­a­tional change.

A poll by the As­so­ci­ated Press-NORC Cen­ter for Pub­lic Af­fairs Re­search and MTV found that most Amer­i­cans ages 15 to 34 think vot­ing in the midterm elec­tions gives their gen­er­a­tion some say about how the gov­ern­ment is run, and 79 per­cent of this group say lead­ers from their gen­er­a­tion would do a bet­ter job run­ning the coun­try.

The poll found young peo­ple ea­ger to vote for some­one who shared their po­lit­i­cal views on is­sues like health care and im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy. They ex­pressed far less ex­cite­ment about vot­ing for can­di­dates de­scribed as life­long politi­cians.

The cur­rent Congress is one of the old­est in U.S. his­tory. At the be­gin­ning of the 115th Congress in Jan­uary 2017, the av­er­age age of House mem­bers was nearly 58, and the av­er­age age of se­na­tors was nearly 62, ac­cord­ing to the Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice.

But po­lit­i­cal change is in the air in 2018. A record num­ber of women are run­ning. Young Amer­i­cans who don't re­mem­ber a time with­out the in­ter­net are el­i­gi­ble to cast bal­lots.

Some young vot­ers started pay­ing at­ten­tion in 2016, after Don­ald Trump up­set Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton, throw­ing the na­tion into chaos.

About two-thirds of the young peo­ple polled said they are ex­tremely or very ex­cited to vote for a can­di­date who cares about the is­sues that af­fect them and their gen­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing the econ­omy, gun pol­icy and equal rights, along with im­mi­gra­tion and health care.

Most say they'd be at least moder­ately ex­cited to vote for younger, non­white and fe­male can­di­dates, but those char­ac­ter­is­tics don't gen­er­ate as much ex­cite­ment as some­one who shares their po­lit­i­cal views.

By con­trast, fewer than half told poll­sters that they're at least moder­ately ex­cited about elect­ing life­long politi­cians.

In Wis­con­sin, that sen­ti­ment bodes poorly for Scott Walker, who's never held a job out­side of pol­i­tics. If young peo­ple turn out to vote in large num­bers, they could de­ter­mine the out­come of his race and races in­volv­ing sim­i­lar can­di­dates across the na­tion.

But will they turn out to vote?

About half of young adults re­port that they're fol­low­ing news about the midterms of­ten or some­times.

About an­other quar­ter say they en­gage on so­cial me­dia. About a third say they're cer­tain to vote, and more in­di­cate they're more likely to vote than not.

Young adults are more likely to be Democrats than Repub­li­cans, and young Democrats are more likely than young Repub­li­cans to say they're cer­tain to vote, 40 per­cent ver­sus 27 per­cent.

Also, an over­whelm­ing num­ber shares hopes the elec­tion will bring about change — and many think their gen­er­a­tion will be the im­pe­tus.

Im­mi­gra­tion is the lead­ing is­sue on the minds of young Amer­i­cans, many of whom were polled when mi­grant chil­dren were be­ing sep­a­rated from their fam­i­lies at the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der.

Ear­lier this year, just after the shoot­ing at a Florida high school that left 17 stu­dents and staff dead, the first Youth Po­lit­i­cal Pulse poll found that about two in 10 young adults re­ported gun pol­icy as the most con­cern­ing is­sue fac­ing the na­tion. Gun con­trol was men­tioned more fre­quently than any other is­sue.

The poll was con­ducted among 1,030 young Amer­i­cans age 15–34. The mar­gin of sam­pling er­ror is plus or mi­nus 4.3 per­cent­age points.

PHOTO: COUR­TESY SANDY HOOK PROM­ISE

‘ROAD TO CHANGE’ REACHES SANDY HOOK: Stu­dents from Park­land, Florida, and New­town, Con­necti­cut, marched to­gether in mid-Au­gust, at the con­clu­sion of the March for Our Lives: Road to Change na­tional bus tour de­mand­ing an end to gun vi­o­lence. The stu­dents marched and ral­lied in New­town near the site of the De­cem­ber 2012 mas­sacre at Sandy Hook El­e­men­tary School. The tour be­gan in Chicago, in­cluded a protest at House Speaker Paul Ryan’s of­fices in Wis­con­sin and made stops in 20 states.

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