Young people represent the largest, most diverse, and progressive generations this nation has ever seen. Now we represent the largest voting bloc in the country. According to our poll conducted in partnership with TargetSmart and Civiqs, young voters are energized and ready to flex their power in 2020.
According to our poll, likely Democratic primary voters aged 18-34 proved what we know to be true and what our network experiences in the field every day. A clear majority of Millennial and Generation Z voters want Democratic candidates to focus on bold, progressive policy, not just beating Donald Trump. It is not enough for candidates to be anti-Trump. Candidates must show that they are willing to bring our issues to the table and have robust plans for how to address them.
Young people feel the pressures of burdening student debt, high housing costs, worsening climate threats, terrifying gun violence, and more. These issues drive our votes because they dictate our lives. We will vote for a candidate who aligns with our ideals, stands up for our lives, and fights for our future––not just someone who seems “electable”.
But that’s not all – not only do young people want big, bold policy change, but they are engaged, paying attention, and ready to throw down. And that engagement is highest among young voters of color—more than eight in 10 (82 percent) young black voters say they feel engaged in the process and nearly eight in 10 young latinx voters (77 percent) say they are very enthusiastic about the 2020 Democratic presidential primary contest.
The Alliance for Youth Action network of youth-led organizations has been on the frontlines fighting for policy change for years. Whether it is Pennsylvania Student Power Network advocating for free college, Chicago Votes fighting for the right to vote for people in pre-trial detention, Forward Montana protecting public lands, or Leaders Igniting Transformation pushing for an end to the school to prison pipeline –– these local young people’s organizations have been at the forefront of pushing progressive policy. Candidates should not only pay attention to the issues young people care about, but also look to young leaders for how we can win on these issues.
Over the past couple of years, young people have demanded a seat at the table. From gun violence prevention to climate justice, we have sparked social movements and ignited change. We want a candidate who can match this energy and fight to build the country we all want and deserve. Will the candidates step up to the challenge? We certainly hope so. We will watch the first 2020 Democratic debates tonight and tomorrow to find out and we know we won’t be watching alone.
Please join us here as we live-Tweet both nights.
For more information about this poll, see our press release here. We’re over a year out from the 2020 election, but network organizations are busy getting ready to engage up and down the ballot, young people are ready to make their voices heard, and we couldn’t be more excited to support and uplift this work.
To the power of young people,