YOUTH VOTING ON TRACK FOR RECORD TURNOUT;
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN GAINS SIGNIFICANT SUPPORT AMONG YOUNG HISPANIC VOTERS
Young black voters report lower confidence that ballots will be counted, and plan to vote in-person in comparison to peers; Bipartisan support for health care and mental health to be addressed by the next administration
CAMBRIDGE, MA — A national poll of America’s 18-to-29 year olds released today by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School found historic interest in the upcoming election, with a higher proportion of respondents indicating they will ‘definitely be voting’ than has been observed in the twenty years the poll has been conducted, suggesting higher turnout than has been observed in this age group in several decades.
“Young Americans recognize that the issues that impact their day-to-day lives are on the ballot, from health care and mental health to racial and social justice. The unprecedented interest in this election and the significant increase in early and mail-in ballots portend historic turnout,” said Mark Gearan‘78, Director, Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. “As this generation becomes the largest voting bloc in the electorate, their notable civic participation is a very good sign for the future.”
Since the Spring 2020 Harvard Youth Poll conducted in March, former Vice President Joe Biden’s favorability has increased to 56% among likely voters, while the percentage who view him unfavorably remains unchanged (41%). This is an increase compared to our Spring 2020 poll where only 34% of all young adults viewed Biden favorably and 47% who viewed him negatively. The poll also found Biden is viewed favorably by 55% of young Hispanics and unfavorably by 28% of young Hispanics, a significant increase since our Spring 2020 survey which saw his favorability draw even at 38% favorable and 38% unfavorably.
“Young people have grown up with the fear of school shootings, they’ve witnessed the destructive forces of unchecked climate change, they’ve participated in demonstrations against racial and economic injustice, and they’re hungry for calm, sure-handed leadership,” said Justin Tseng ‘22, Chair of the Harvard Public Opinion Project.
Although Republicans and Democrats are divided on the role government should play in addressing health care issues, young Americans have a strong preference for more increased policy actions to address healthcare issues (72%) and to improve access to mental health services (75%). These preferences cross party lines, with 85% of Democrats, 70% of independent or unaffiliated young adults, and slightly more than half (55%) of Republicans preferring stronger government policies to address healthcare. Although it is not uncommon for politicians to want to eliminate some of the policy interventions of the Affordable Care Act, support for less government intervention in health care is minimal among young Americans, with only 6% overall (and only 8% of young Republicans) thinking government should do less to address healthcare issues than it does now. Support for increased government policy to support mental health services is even greater, with 75% of all young adults, 84% of Democrats, 74% of unaffiliated, and nearly two-thirds (64%) of Republicans preferring greater government measures to improve mental health care access.
Top findings of this survey, the 40th in a biannual series, include the following:
- Youth enthusiasm to vote and likelihood of turning out on track to hit record levels in 2020
- Since September, Biden’s advantage increases to 63%-25% among the 18-to 29- year olds most likely to vote, leading President Donald Trump among all young Americans 50%-26%
- Biden’s favorability has increased significantly since Spring 2020, specifically among young Hispanics
- More than half (55%) of young Democratic likely voters intend to vote by mail compared to less than one-third (28%) of their Republican peers
- Young black voters report lower confidence that ballots will be counted, and are significantly more likely to report planning on voting in-person on election day, compared to any other group
- With 2016 likely still top of mind, fewer Biden supporters believe that their candidate will ultimately win the election compared to Trump supporters
- A majority of Young Americans, regardless of political affiliation, agree that the government should have an increased role in improving mental health services and addressing health care issues
- Overwhelming support across racial demographics for the government to address systemic racism, improve race relations
- Young Americans have mixed views on government regulation. While young Republicans are more slightly likely to support deregulation, over 1/3 of young Democrats also support deregulation
- Young Americans are experiencing more anxiety and less calm, joy or excitement than Spring 2019
- Young Americans are evenly divided on whether their opportunities to success are better than their parents’ generation (36%), about the same as their parents’ generation (29%), or worse than their parents’ generation (34%)
This poll of 2,026 18- to 29- year-olds, including 1,229 likely voters, was organized with undergraduate students from the Harvard Public Opinion Project (HPOP) and supervised by Chase H. Harrison, Ph.D. Data were collected Ipsos Public Affairs using the KnowledgePanel Calibration approach. In this approach, the calibrating sample was provided by the KnowledgePanel probability-based sample source (n=1,005), while the sample to be calibrated was provided by non-probability, opt-in web panel sample sources (n=1,021). Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish between September 23 and October 11, 2020. The target population for this survey is US residents between the ages of 18 and 29. Data are weighted to reflect population estimates based on age-group, race, Hispanic ethnicity, educational attainment, household income, urbanicity, and geographic region of residence. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 2.99%.
About the Institute of Politics
The Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School was established in 1966 as a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy. The Institute’s mission is to unite and engage students, particularly undergraduates, with academics, politicians, activists, and policymakers on a non-partisan basis to inspire them to consider careers in politics and public service.
The Harvard Youth Poll examines the political opinions and civic engagement of young Americans ages 18- to- 29. Since 2000, the student-led Harvard Public Opinion Project has provided the most comprehensive look at the political opinions, voting trends, and views on public service held by young Americans. The Institute blends the academy with practical politics and offers students the opportunity to engage on current events and to acquire skills and perspectives that will assist in their postgraduate choices.