Poll: Young Americans Are Leaning Left

According to a new New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll, young Americans are leaning left.

Young Americans are more likely than the general public to favor a government-run universal health care insurance system, an open-door policy on immigration and the legalization of gay marriage, according to a New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll. The poll also found that they are more likely to say the war in Iraq is heading to a successful conclusion.

More good news:

Substantially more Americans ages 17 to 29 than four years ago are paying attention to the presidential race.

....More than half of Americans ages 17 to 29 — 54 percent — say they intend to vote for a Democrat for president in 2008. They share with the public at large a negative view of President Bush, who has a 28 percent approval rating with this group, and of the Republican Party. They hold a markedly more positive view of Democrats than they do of Republicans.

It gets better. More below.

In one potential sign of shifting attitudes, respondents, by overwhelming margins, said they believed that the nation was prepared to elect as president a woman, a black person or someone who admitted to having used marijuana. But they said that they did not believe Americans would elect someone who had used cocaine or someone who was a Mormon.

On that last one, I think the question should have been whether they would vote for someone who had used cocaine as opposed to their view of the user's electability, so I'm not counting it as a negative.

They also believe, as do I, that if we get a draft back, it will be the doings of Republicans.

The survey also found that 42 percent of young Americans thought it was likely or very likely that the nation would reinstate a military draft over the next few years — and two-thirds said they thought the Republican Party was more likely to do so. And 87 percent of respondents said they opposed a draft.

Back in 2002, when guest-blogging for Eric Alterman at the old Altercation, I wrote about the 2004 election (link now dead):

I think the Democrats must begin moving left and get out of center field. They have to show there is a real difference between the two parties. To make any headway in 2004, they must convince us that they care about individual liberties and privacy. If the Democrats don’t present the voters with a real choice next time, we may as well be a one party system.

Of course, no one agreed with me and we got another bumper crop of centrists that year. It may not change in 2008, but I hope it's headed that way.

If it's true that kids get their politics from their parents (I know that's how I got mine and how the TL kid got his) then maybe it's a broader trend than just the young. Maybe their parents are also leaning left. One can hope, anyway.

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    Yesss :) (none / 0) (#1)
    by scarshapedstar on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:24:40 AM EST
    Hey, I coulda told you that. I must admit that I'm both heartened and surprised by my cohort's support for liberal policies on healthcare and immigration. Most of them don't pay much attention to economic issues aside from the day in Econ 101 when the professor scribbles the Laffer Curve on the board, and so they end up -- snicker -- only social liberals.

    But, really, I shouldn't be surprised. These issues obviously don't just come down to money, they're about social justice, and a politician's opposition to the third issue (gay marriage) is a scarlet letter that will absolutely crush what remains of the "conservative movement" once we start voting in bigger numbers. I don't know if the theocons have read a history book lately, but there's a great emphasis on the fact that America has often treated minorities as second-class citizens and that this is the fault of very, very bad men. We all have openly gay friends and very much look forward to giving them the normal lives they deserve.

    Now, uh, as for the bit about the war... :\

    People often ask me... (none / 0) (#2)
    by LonewackoDotCom on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 01:25:43 AM EST
    "'wacko, what sets you apart from other bloggers?" And, of course, I answer that among many other things I actually read the poll questions that were asked.

    For instance, here's one of the questions:

    54. Which comes closer to your opinion: 1) America should always welcome all immigrants, OR 2) America should always welcome some immigrants, but not others, OR 3) America cannot afford to open its doors to any newcomers?

    There are so many different ways to interpret the first two parts of that question, it's more akin to an attempt to find out whether someone is gullible or not.

    My dad always told me... (none / 0) (#3)
    by Slado on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 09:20:31 AM EST
    If your not a liberal when your young you have no heart, if your not a conservative when your old you have no brain.

    I voted for Clinton twice when I was 19 and 23.

    Now I would no sooner vote for Clinton then I would Ross Perot.

    I would say that anyone in the young republican club in high school probably has other issues because frankly it's so easy to be a liberal when your young because you reject conformity, have great ideals etc.. etc... so who's party should appeal to someone that on Facebook and Myspace all the time?

    Remember Jeralyn there was big talk about young people during the Kerry campaign and big publicity from people such as puff daddy and other celebs but the problem is it's hard to rely on people who know more about the characters in Halo then who serves on the Judiciary comitte.

    Don't forget.... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Edger on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 09:25:23 AM EST
    "If you're not a bit of both by the time you're 50... you have no hope."

    Good point! (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Slado on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:32:53 PM EST
    I'm not a heartless conservative...I play one on Talk Left :)

    Heh! So do I sometimes. (none / 0) (#10)
    by Edger on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:35:14 PM EST
    And a shameless liberal other times. ;-)

    Because (none / 0) (#6)
    by Repack Rider on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 10:06:18 AM EST
    Now I would no sooner vote for Clinton then I would Ross Perot.

    Peace, prosperity and a budget surplus are overrated.


    Peace? (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 10:23:09 AM EST
    Tell the people of Iraq what a peaceful guy Bill Clinton was ordering bombing runs.

    Prosperity?...I call that the luck of being pres during the internet boom.

    The budget surplus was cool...but you could probably credit the internet boom and the capital gains taxes generated more than Clinton's economic wizardry.


    Thanks for the assist... (none / 0) (#9)
    by Slado on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:34:39 PM EST

    Clinton really wasn't that bad a president.  Even I admit that.  I might actually vote for him if my choices where again Dole or him considering what a good first term he had .  He did a lot of good things, rode a good wave of prosperity...

    I sure wouldn't vote for his wife though and that's what I meant.


    My pleasure.... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:43:23 PM EST
    Slado.  Compared to GDub any president looks good, even Tricky Dick.

    My beef with Clinton is the same with all the others...a completely bought, crooked, and gelded leader.  


    No argument ... (none / 0) (#17)
    by Sailor on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 11:11:59 PM EST
    ... except he didn't try to take over the world or claim exec privilege trumps the constitution.

    Yep (none / 0) (#11)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 12:38:59 PM EST
    I voted for the peanut farmer my first time out. Never again.

    I'd like to see a poll (none / 0) (#5)
    by Ben Masel on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 09:43:22 AM EST
    spliting the 17-20 from the older "young" demographic. My subjective impression campaigning last summer has the youngest eligibles far to the left even of the 20 somethings.

    At the polls registration has a pretty big impact on turnout among the newly eligibles. Alas, in the States where one imagines at the polls would be easiest to pass, the Dem establishment doesn't want to see it, as it tends to favor outsider Primary challengers.

    Man Bites Dog (none / 0) (#13)
    by Fritz on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 02:27:40 PM EST
    Gee, 60% of the respondents were 17-24, the parent & society welfare years, they are always more liberal.  The news is full of Democratic Presidential candidates out offering benefits to them; I wonder why they would view them positivly?  The claim that young people are more interested in 2008 than they were in 2004 can not be proved by this study.  In 2004 at this time, the primaries were complete, the candidates were chosen, one being an incumbent.   Sorry to lessen then enthusiasm, but in 2004 37% of this group considered that election the most important in their lifetime vs only 22% today.  The "as important as any other"  was up to 29% vs 21%.  

    Don't worry (none / 0) (#16)
    by scarshapedstar on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 09:21:57 PM EST
    I'm sure we'll be jaded enough to shrug our shoulders while a million Iraqis die in our name soon enough. Rest easy.

    to be really honest (none / 0) (#14)
    by skippybkroo on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 06:41:37 PM EST
    as much as i love talkleft and love the idea that "young americans are leaning left," the actual poll data didn't really reflect that, at least not in the nytimes article that was linked to.

    tho 28% of the young americans polled described themselves as "liberal," another 27% described themselves as "conservative," so to me, that's a wash.

    we're stuck in the middle with you.

    and tho a majority (54%) said they planned to vote democratic for president, i would posit that "democrat" and "liberal" are not really synonomous, whether i can spell it or not.


    if your not a liberal when your young you have no heart, if your not a conservative when your old you have no brain.

    and apparently you're missing all your spelling contractions, too.

    I forget (none / 0) (#15)
    by scarshapedstar on Wed Jun 27, 2007 at 09:20:39 PM EST
    tho 28% of the young americans polled described themselves as "liberal," another 27% described themselves as "conservative," so to me, that's a wash.

    I guess you didn't notice the 30-year campaign to brand "conservative" as "responsible" and "liberal" as "communist flag-burning homosexual".

    That ain't a wash. That's a triumph.


    Imagine the triumph they could have had!

    Not Sure What It IS (none / 0) (#19)
    by squeaky on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 04:59:06 PM EST
    But people like Norm COleman leant left but then went right as he gained power and material wealth. So even if the poll is correct it does not mean that those polled will stay left.

    I think that parts of the brain atrophy for some in direct proportion to increased wealth and power. The condition is surely a distant cousin of Alzheimer.