Young voters are increasingly siding with Democrats, but young Republicans concerned about the direction of the country are growing more socially conservative than their elders, according to a Harvard poll published Monday.
There was record youth voter turnout in the 2018 midterms, with two-thirds of young voters picking a Democrat, according to the poll, conducted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics and published by Time.
The overall turnout was 31 percent — the highest since the mid-1990s, according to the poll. Youth voters were defined as those falling between ages 18 to 29.
“We’ve been seeing a growing divide between younger and older voters in America,” says John Della Volpe, polling director at the Institute of Politics. “Folks in their late 50s and older support Republicans 2:1, folks in the millennial generation support Dems 2:1.”
Della Volpe said during the 2000 election, young voters were evenly split between Democrast and Republicans. However, he said, a series of events including “George W. Bush’s foreign wars to Barack Obama’s inspirational 2008 campaign to the Republicans’ failure to act on climate change” have pushed young people increasingly to the left.
The poll also found, however, that young Republicans concerned about the moral direction of the nation were more socially conservative than the Republican Party as a whole.
Fifty-five percent of young Republicans said they believe same-sex relationships are morally wrong (compared to 44 percent of all Republicans).
Fifty-one percent want more religious values in government (compared to 43 percent of all Republicans). And 48 percent said recent immigration has done more harm than good (compared to 39 percent of all Republicans.)
The poll found a 14-point increase among young people caring about the environment since 2015.
In 2015, only 32 percent of young people said that the government should do more to try to curb climate change. That number is now 46 percent, according to the poll.
A third of young voters listed “protecting the environment” as either their first or second most important foreign policy concern, along with stopping terrorists and protecting human rights, according to the poll.
The increased concern correlates with the rise of the youth-led Sunrise Movement against reliance on fossil fuels, and the Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, according to Time.
“Trade alliances, defending allies and promoting the spread of Democracy seemed to have much less traction,” according to Time.