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IOP Poll Finds Majority of Surveyed Young Voters Favor Trump Impeachment

A student common area at the Harvard Kennedy School.
A student common area at the Harvard Kennedy School. By Sanjana S. Ramrajvel
By Sydnie M. Cobb, Crimson Staff Writer

Fifty-two percent of surveyed voters between the ages of 18 to 29 and 58 percent of general election voters under 30 support the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump, according to an Institute of Politics poll released Monday.

The biannual Harvard Youth Poll garnered more than 2,000 responses nationwide.

“There is high support among most demographics for impeachment and removal; however, we can see that young voters are decided and divided,” said Justin Y. Tseng ’22, a member of Harvard Public Opinion Project, the group that conducted the poll. “If they support impeachment and removal, they are likely to stay in that position. If they don’t, they are likely to stay in that position as well.”

IOP Director Mark D. Gearan ’78 said on a press call that the fall 2019 iteration of the poll analyzed opinions of the 18-29 voting bloc regarding “incremental and structural change, specific policies, and how they engage with politics more broadly.”

Of those surveyed, 40 percent of young voters favored policies that “stand a good chance of being achieved as opposed to sweeping changes that will be difficult to carry out.” On the other hand, 34 percent of those surveyed preferred “big structural policy changes that address the urgency of the problems that we are facing, even if they will not be easy to carry out.”

John Della Volpe, the IOP’s director of polling, said he believes this trend is indicative of young people’s shifting preference for pragmatism over progressivism.

“In a race of progressive change and pragmatic change, when we look at the entire electorate likely to vote in November, we see that pragmatism is winning,” Della Volpe said.

The poll also asked surveyees questions about the 2020 election.

HPOP used generalized statements from the campaign platforms of the leading Democratic candidates and Trump to gauge support for each ticket.

Among those surveyed who said they were likely to vote in the general election, the campaign messages of Senator Bernie Sanders (D–Vt.) were the most popular, with 24 percent of those surveyed supporting the language of his ticket. Messages from Senator Elizabeth A. Warren (D–Mass.) and former Vice President Joe Biden each had 21 percent support; 19 percent of those surveyed indicated that they supported the language of Trump’s campaign.

The poll also asked young voters about five structural reforms: replacing private health insurance with government-sponsored coverage, eliminating the electoral college, implementing universal background checks, banning the sale of assault weapons, and instituting a mandatory buyback program of assault weapons.

The data showed each of these changes garnered majority support among young voters who said they were likely to vote in the Democratic primary. Background checks, in particular, had “overwhelming bipartisan support,” according to HPOP co-chair Richard M. Sweeney ’21.

Sweeney said reform surrounding the mandatory buyback program, medicare-for-all, and electoral college reform failed to gather majority support among those who said they were likely to vote in the general election because young voters are unsure where they stand on these policies.

Sweeney said he believes politicians need to seriously consider the policy interests of the 18 to 29 voting bloc if they want to succeed in their respective elections.

“Young people are seriously considering these policies. These are the policies the older generation has written off,” Sweeney said. “Candidates need to continue to explore and discuss each one of these because we are listening and we are voting.”

Gearan said he believes the results of the IOP Youth Poll become more important each year, given the growing size and influence of the 18 to 29 voting bloc.

“By election day in 2020, the Millennial and Gen Z generations will represent more than a third of the eligible voters,” Gearan said. “When you combine the high turnout and the sustained voter interest from the midterms and beyond, this is a significant cohort of an emerging voter bloc.”

— Staff writer Sydnie M. Cobb can be reached at sydnie.cobb@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @cobbsydnie.

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