FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, February 6th
WASHINGTON— Young voters are very likely to vote in their state’s presidential primary, but have yet to be wooed by any single Democratic presidential candidate — making young voters the key swing vote in this primary contest. This is according to a recent poll of young registered voters (and non-voters) released by the Alliance for Youth Action, in association with HIT Strategies.
Contrary to popular belief, young people are extremely likely to vote in the primary. However, many of those young voters who are likely to participate have not seen, heard, or been directly contacted by Democratic Presidential candidates. This includes seeing political ads about a candidate on TV, online, or on the radio; receiving emails and text messages from a political campaign; and talking to someone from a political campaign on the phone or at their doors, among other outreach methods.
Because young people haven’t heard from the candidates, no Democratic Primary candidate maintains a majority support among young voters and many remain undecided or are supporting a candidate below two percent. This means that as the race takes shape, candidates have work to do to convince this key voting bloc.
“This poll is a clarion call to the candidates: the youth vote needs to be earned and not taken for granted,” said Sarah Audelo, Executive Director of the Alliance for Youth Action. “Young people won’t get to know candidates and where they stand on issues if candidates do not engage with them directly. Not fully engaging young people in the primaries could prove to be a huge misstep that the Democratic presidential candidate can’t recover from during the general.”
“This poll confirms the trends that we observed in the 2018 midterm and subsequent special elections around the nation, that young voters are embracing their role in selecting the candidates that are shaping the society they will ultimately inherit,” said Terrance Woodbury, Partner of HIT Strategies. “Democratic candidates must do much better engaging young voters that are ‘extremely likely to vote in the primary’ but remain largely undecided and uncommitted about who they will support in the Democratic Primary.”
The survey of registered voters age 17-35 was conducted between January 8-19, 2020, and produced four major findings:
1. Young people are extremely likely to vote in the primary
- 77 percent of self-identified Democrats said they are extremely likely to vote in their state’s presidential primary contest
- 70 percent of young registered voters of color said they are extremely likely to vote in their state’s primary election, compared to 64 percent of young white voters
- Younger voters – those under age 25 – are the least likely to vote in the upcoming primary elections, but with still 55 percent saying they’re extremely likely to vote
- Overall, 66 percent of registered voters age 17-35 said they were extremely likely to vote in their state’s presidential primary contest
2. Many young voters that are likely to participate in the Democratic Primary have not seen, heard, or been directly contacted by Democratic Presidential candidates.
- Only 59 percent of young Democrats have seen political ads on TV or online
- At least 58 percent of young Democrats have never been contacted by a presidential campaign through text message, phone call, or in person at their door—35 percent have never received an email from a campaign
3. No Democratic primary candidate maintains a majority support amongst young voters, many remain undecided or are supporting a candidate below two percent.
- The top three candidates among young voters likely to participate in the Democratic primary are: Bernie Sanders, 30 percent; Joe Biden, 19 percent; and Elizabeth Warren, 15 percent
- A plurality of young voters of color also support Bernie Sanders—32 percent, followed by Joe Biden at 22 percent and Elizabeth Warren at 15 percent
- Among young white voters: 29 percent support Bernie Sanders, 16 percent support Elizabeth Warren and 15 percent support Joe Biden
- 13 percent of young registered voters are still undecided
4. Candidates have work to do to convince young voters who will continue shopping as the race consolidates
- A majority of Biden, Sanders and Yang voters will remain committed to their first choice candidate (52 percent, 68 percent, and 64 percent, respectively). 30 percent would switch their vote if their preferred candidate’s path to victory narrows
- 39 percent of Warren supporters and 32 percent of Buttigieg supporters would not switch their vote should their candidate’s path to the nomination dwindle—meaning a majority of the support for these candidates among young voters is tethered to their chances of clinching the nomination
With voting underway in early states and the Democratic field beginning to dwindle, young voters remain incredibly engaged in the primary. However, this constituency remains largely undecided offering Democratic Primary candidates the opportunity to win over the biggest swing voting bloc in the electorate.
We plan to release the full poll results next week.
The Alliance for Youth Action is a nationwide network of organizations building the progressive political power of young people across America to strengthen our democracy, fix our economy, and correct injustices through on-the-ground organizing. The Alliance supports and scales the work of local organizations to build a movement of young people, by young people, and for all people.