As the Midterm Elections Approach, Young Americans Trust Their Own Generation the Most
Since early March 2018, MTV Insights and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs have been tracking sentiments about politics and social issues among Americans aged 15 to 34. These surveys have revealed that American young people are deeply disappointed in the government, they feel their interests are being ignored by politicians, and are experiencing a rising sense of empowerment.
In America’s midterm elections this November, the country will vote on all members of the House of Representatives and a third of Senate seats. As this election approaches, here are findings from the latest wave of the survey, fielded in June/July 2018:
American young people want to incite positive change – and see voting as a way to make a difference. More than 6 in 10 Americans aged 15 to 34 (62%) believe their generation is motivated to make positive changes in the US. Nearly the same percentage (63%) say that voting in the 2018 midterms will allow their generation to affect real change in the government.
They’re pessimistic about the state of American politics and the country’s ability to “come together” as a nation. Just 1 in 10 young Americans said they have felt positive or excited about the state of the country in the past month, and about 7 in 10 believe American politics are dysfunctional. Close to 6 in 10 feel doubtful that people of different political views can come together and work out their differences, and less than 1 in 5 hold out hope that these political divisions will heal over the next five years.
When deciding on how to vote, half will consider a large number of policy issues. But finding information is a concern. When asked which issues are most important to their vote choice, 49% of American young people cited 5 or more issues, with health care, immigration, and the economy as their top interests. However, less than a quarter are confident they have enough information about the candidates for the 2018 midterms to make an informed choice.
Young Americans are inspired by leaders who focus on issues that affect them – and they have the most faith in their own generation. Political candidates who care about issues that impact the younger generation generate the most excitement, while enthusiasm lags for white and older candidates. Overwhelmingly, American young people think their generation is poised to do a better job than politicians currently in office. Four in 5 say leaders from their generation will be better at running the country, while 1 in 5 say current leaders are preferable.