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After the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, 60 percent of American millennials now support sending ground troops to fight the Islamic State, according to results from a biannual Institute of Politics poll of young Americans released Thursday morning. Only 48 percent supported sending ground troops in polling earlier this fall, and the question was re-fielded after the attacks.
The 28th edition of the poll surveyed just over 2,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 about their views on the Islamic State, the American dream, and the upcoming presidential election. The interviews were conducted between late October and early November, so the results do not reflect Republican candidate Donald Trump’s recent controversial statement about temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States.
The IOP poll found that, despite majority support for ground troops in Syria, less than 20 percent of millennials are willing to serve if asked.
“Traditionally [millennials have] been very resistant to this. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not popular among young people... In large part, I think it’s because this group of people grew up after the war in Iraq really made an impression,” said Ellen T. Robo ’16, student chair of the Public Opinion Project, which conducted the survey with the guidance of IOP director of polling John Della Volpe.
Young Americans, according to the poll results, place integrity, level-headedness, and authenticity as the most important attributes in a future president, above political experience.
Poll data about the upcoming elections shows that Republicans are losing ground among young voters. A majority—56 percent—wants Democrats to maintain control of the White House, a net increase of 5 percentage points from the spring edition of the poll.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean that Democrats are becoming more popular, but what we see overall right now is that Republicans are becoming less popular,” said Dustin Chiang ’19, whose work on the project focused on the Republican primary race.
Trump led the pack of Republican candidates, with 22 percent saying they would vote for him if the primaries were held today. However, only 38 percent of young Republican voters believe he is qualified to be president.
Trump’s push to build a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico was another topic included in the poll. Seventy percent of young Republicans support building a wall, compared to 31 percent of Democrats.
“Young people look more like the rest of Americans,” Volpe said. “In the last four or five years, we’ve seen them become more polarized. Democrats are moving further to the left; Republicans are moving further to the right.”
As for Democrats between the ages of 18 and 29, there has been a surge of support for Bernie Sanders since the spring poll, when just 1 percent supported him. Now 41 percent do, compared to 35 percent for Hillary Clinton.
Fifty-three percent of Democrats in college support Sanders, while only 19 percent support Clinton.
There is also now a nearly even split between young people who believe the American dream is alive, and those who believe it is dead. A majority of both Trump’s and Sanders’ supporters believe it is dead—that is not the case for supporters of any other candidates.
—Staff writer Leah S. Yared can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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