Young voters are looking for younger leaders
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.
‘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.