Young US Voters Cite Education, Race as Major Election Issues

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

Young people in the US are united on one issue: they believe that what matters most when picking a new president is education.

But in other areas of importance, there are broad disagreements. African-American adults from 18 to 30 say racism is almost as important as education. Young Hispanics say it’s immigration, and millennial whites and Asian-Americans believe it’s economic growth, according to the Associated Press.

The new GenForward poll results show variations among young Americans, although this group is often thought of as thoroughly allied, probably because of their tremendous support for President Obama during his two campaigns.

GenForward is a survey by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago along with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. This survey is the first poll of its kind and focuses on the voices of young adults of color. Its purpose is to center on the ways race and ethnicity develop the opinions of America’s most diverse generation.

And some of the findings were notable. Young African-American are more likely to say racism is a prime issue. One-third of blacks aged 18 to 30 said the same, but say that racism runs neck-to-neck with education and ahead of economic growth and health care.

Montgomery, Alabama’s Lakevia Davis, 24, said the police shootings of blacks in the past few years pushed race to the top of the list for her and other young African-Americans:

“The civil rights movement was only 50 years ago, but we’re still fighting the same fight,” she said. “It’s a just as big a deal for other races, but it’s just not as public as it is for us.”

The poll was taken before the shootings of two black men whose killings were captured on video, and the shooting of Dallas police officers. The Dallas shooter said he wanted revenge for the blacks who have been killed by police officers.

Two in ten African-Americans chose police brutality as a top issue in their presidential choice, which is far more than Asian-Americans, whites, and Hispanics.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has put race equality at the top of her list, says the Associated Press. She said this week she wants to develop guidelines for using police force and to begin training on “implicit bias.”

Political Science Professor Todd Shaw of the University of South Carolina said it could be Trump’s rhetoric that had caused young black adults to put racism at the top of their lists of important issues.

Donald Trump’s response to race inequality is usually framed in economic terms, while the poll showed that unemployment was almost as concerning to young African-Americans as police brutality, report Jesse J. Holland and Emily Swanson for the Associated Press. Trump said:

“Jobs can solve so many problems … and we’re going to open our country up and we’re going to be a huge jobs producer again instead of having terrible jobs.”

The survey included 1,965 adults who were 18-30 and was conducted June 14-27 using a sample from the probability-based GenForward panel. The survey was designed to fairly represent the US young adult population.