Poll shows American youth more politically active, socially liberal

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Politically active youth at Rutgers University

Younger Americans may be more receptive to traditionally liberal social policy than their parents, according to a recent poll conducted by the New York Times, CBS News, and MTV. The survey found those ages 17 to 29 to be substantially more interested in Presidential politics, with nearly 60 percent expressing interest in the 2008 race, compared to 35 percent at approximately the same point in the 2004 campaign.

Government-sponsored health care received strong support among the younger voters polled, at 62 percent, compared with just 47 percent support across voters of all ages. Younger voters appear more supportive of same-sex marriage, legalization of marijuana, and liberalized immigration policy as well.

Optimism about the outcome of the war in Iraq was higher among the young, with 51 percent of those surveyed predicting a successful outcome, although 87 percent opposed the institution of a draft. Among all adults, 45 percent envision a successful outcome of the war.

In stark contrast, younger Americans expressed a generally pessimistic attitude about their future personally and the direction of the country in general. Nearly half predict that they will not enjoy the same success as their parents, and 70 percent felt that the country was on the wrong track.

Despite differences on social policy, some similarities emerged in the poll. Survey data indicated that just 28 percent of those polled approved of the Bush administration's performance, which is fairly consistent with other polls of the President's performance, hovering around 30 percent. Support for abortion was also similar between youth and voters in general.

A majority of younger voters indicated that they would vote for a Democrat for President in 2008, reflecting previous trends. Voter turnout among the young has historically lagged turnout rates for all adults, although 2004 saw sharp increases in young voter participation. That year, 47 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted, compared with 36 percent in the 2000 election. A majority of the young have cast votes for the Democratic nominee in every Presidential race since 1992.

The poll surveyed 659 participants via telephone in mid-June, and has a margin of error of four percent.