Elections

Politics a huge turnoff for younger voters, new study finds

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, is a favorite of 18- to 29-year-old Democratic voters, a new survey reported Thursday.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, is a favorite of 18- to 29-year-old Democratic voters, a new survey reported Thursday. AP

America’s younger generation remains largely uninterested and disengaged from the 2016 presidential campaign, a new Harvard Institute of Politics survey found Thursday.

They’re also split on whether the American dream is dead.

The poll also reported that Republicans are losing ground among younger voters. Fifty-six percent of 18- to 29-year-olds prefer that a Democrat win the presidency next year, up 5 points from the institute’s spring survey. Thirty-six percent preferred Republicans.

The nationwide survey found that the younger generation remains a generation not all that interested in politics.

Less than half said they are following the 2016 campaign, and just 1 in 5 said they regard themselves as politically engaged or active – down 5 percentage points from a similar period four years ago.

Nearly half said the American dream is dead for them. Optimism was somewhat higher for college graduates, as 58 percent said the dream was alive, while 42 percent not in college felt that way.

Overall, younger Republican voters had real estate mogul Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in a near dead heat. Under-30 Democrats prefer Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by 41 to 35 percent.

Backers of Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Sanders were gloomy about the American dream. Sixty-one percent of Trump voters thought the dream was dead, while 56 percent of Sanders voters felt that way.

"Voters overwhelmingly value wisdom and experience," says Lee Meringoff of the Marist Institute. The latest McClatchy-Marist poll shows that over half of registered voters in America would vote for someone over the age of 65.

Among other findings:

– Sixty percent back committing ground troops to defeat the Islamic State. When asked how likely they would be to serve, 16 percent said they “have already,” “would definitely” or “would strongly consider” joining the U.S. military to combat ISIS if additional troops were needed.

– Among Republicans, 43 percent said they thought Carson was qualified to be president. Thirty-eight percent said Trump was qualified.

– Among Democrats, 66 percent said Sanders’ description of himself as a democratic socialist made no difference in whether they would back his presidential bid.

David Lightman: 202-383-6101, @lightmandavid

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