February 20, 2016
A plurality of young people choose Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, at 74 the oldest candidate in the 2016 presidential race, as the political figure they like and respect the most.
Thirty-one percent of Americans aged 18 to 26 rate Sanders the highest, followed by President Barack Obama with 18 percent and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with 11 percent, according to a survey by Republican pollster Frank Luntz. Nine percent of young people say Republican front-runner Donald Trump is the political figure they like and respect the most.
He is followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, a Texas senator, who are tied at 5 percent. Retired surgeon and GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson receives four percent, andMarco Rubio, a GOP presidential candidate and Florida senator, is at 3 percent.
Eighty-six percent of young people say they are extremely or very likely to vote in the November presidential election.
The survey contains much good news for Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Forty-five percent of young people say they would vote for Sanders if the election were held today. Nineteen percent say they would vote for Clinton. Ten percent would cast their ballots for Trump. None of the other candidates reach double digits.
Fifty-eight percent of young people choose socialism over capitalism (33 percent) as the most compassionate system. Sixty-six percent say corporate America “embodies everything that is wrong with America,” compared with 34 percent who say corporate America embodies what’s right with America. A plurality of 28 percent say the most pressing issue facing the country is income inequality – one of Sanders’ top themes. Next on the list of pressing issues among young people is the cost of education, with 24 percent. This is another main theme for Sanders in his campaign.
Forty-four percent of 18- to 26-year-olds align with the Democrats; 42 percent identify as independents, and only 15 percent see themselves as Republicans.
Eighty-eight percent say they are at least somewhat optimistic about their own future, including 54 percent who say they are extremely or very optimistic. Only 12 percent are pessimistic.
“Make no mistake,” Luntz said in a memo to reporters. “This is the stuff of serious sea change for America.”
The poll finds that 75 percent of young people think they will do better financially than their parents, including one in four who think they will do “a lot better.” Only 6 percent think they will do “worse.”
“This is important,” Luntz said. “It’s a seismic shift in electorate mentality, a schism between generations that could have huge impacts for many elections to come. And it is completely contrary to our own polling last year, when 54 percent of Americans said their children and the next generation will do worse than they did. This isn’t a perceptions gap. it’s a chasm.”