Millennials’ influence on politics is set to greatly expand in the coming years as the voting bloc occupies a larger share of the electorate. This group of Americans, approximately ages 18 to 33, now accounts for about a quarter of the voting-age population, already surpassing the number of seniors eligible to vote.
So how can elected officials appeal to them?
Results of a nationwide survey published Thursday provide clues to how Millennials might cast their ballots. The survey, conducted by Democratic polling firm Harstad Strategic Research for the Youth Engagement Fund and Project New America, measures their attitudes on a range of issues.
Pollsters interviewed about 2,000 Millennials in late March and April. Here are a few key takeaways from the results:
Millennials favor more government involvement on many issues
Rallying against big government might not have the same appeal to Millennials as it does for other age groups. At least on the economic and social issues included in the poll, they overwhelmingly support more government intervention.
Across all issues surveyed, an average of 72 percent of Millennials supported greater government involvement.
Here’s a chart from the polling firm showing how they see government’s role for each issue:
While the results certainly suggest Millennials may favor a more activist government, it’s important to note here that all the issues surveyed highlight more liberal causes.
They’re worried about paying for college
As the cost of higher education continues to climb, it’s no surprise that paying for college is among Millennials' top concerns.
The polling firm tested 13 messages, ranging from Obamacare to climate change, to identify which most resonated with Millennials. Curbing the cost of attending college and expanding student aid ranked as the most persuasive issue of those surveyed (see table below).
A separate question about student loans found 87 percent favored lower interest rates on student debt. About a third of Millennials surveyed reported having a student loan; 76 percent of those said they worried about it.
Investment in community colleges garnered similarly high marks in the survey.
Millennials strongly support gun background checks
Stricter background check requirements for firearm purchases emerged as another key issue for Millennials.
Fifty-seven percent “strongly favored,” and 26 percent “somewhat favored,” criminal background checks for all individuals, including those buying firearms at gun shows.
In response to a question asking how important various policy stances are in determining voting for a member of Congress, background checks ranked second only behind student loans. The following table shows how Millennials scored the persuasiveness of all issues, grouped on a scale from zero to ten:
10-7 (Most persuasive)
They value equality
|6-4 (Middle range)||3-0 (Least persuasive)|
|3||Invest in Good Jobs||57%||33%||9%|
|7||Opportunity to Get Ahead||54%||34%||12%|
|10||Climate and Renewables||50%||37%||13%|
|11||Corruption/Money in Politics||49%||38%||13%|
|12||Gridlock Harms The Economy||48%||39%||13%|