Tuesday, June 26, 2007

In Praise Of Youth: New Poll Portends A Brighter Future!

A new New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll underscores the seismic shift that is bubbling under the surface of our body politic. Young Americans are not only increasingly more liberal, but they are increasingly more politically engaged! While the CBS report emphasizes that Americans aged 17 to 29 favor Senator Barack Obama or Senator Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Presidential Race, the New York Times gets to the real story:
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.
Among the poll's findings:

70% believe the country is on the wrong track.

48% fear their generation will be worse off than their parents'.

54% of young Americans intend to vote for a Democrat for President in 2008.

28% give Bush a positive approval rating.

44% percent approve of same-sex marriage (only 28% of the public approves, overall).

They are more likely than their elders to favor legalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana.

62% support universal national health insurance.

37% believe abortion should be generally available, 38% believe it should be available with more restrictions, and 24% believe it should be banned.

52-36% believe the Democrats are closer to sharing their values than are the Republicans.

58% have a positive view of the Democratic Party, while only 38% have a positive view of the Republicans.

42% think it likely or very likely a military draft will be imposed in the next four years, two-thirds think the Republicans are more likely to impose it, and 87% oppose it.

Young people are more optimistic about the outcome of the Iraq War, with a bare 51% majority believing we are at least likely to succeed, but the article makes clear that young Americans are historically more likely than the overall population to support a president during a war.

And in some very key results:

77% believe their generation will greatly influence the next Presidential election.
By any measure, the poll suggests that young Americans are anything but apathetic about the presidential election. Fifty-eight percent said they were paying attention to the campaign. By contrast, at this point in the 2004 presidential campaign, 35 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds said they were paying a lot or some attention to the campaign.
And as for their favorite candidates?
Asked if they were enthusiastic about any of the candidates running for president, 18 percent named Mr. Obama, of Illinois, and 17 percent named Mrs. Clinton, of New York. Those two were followed by Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican, who was named by just 4 percent of the respondents.
All of this is encouraging. It speaks well of the much-disparaged youth of our nation. Even the numbers that aren't yet where we want them to be are trending in the right direction. It gives a glimmer of hope for a much better future. It also speaks to the importance of making sure that young people remain engaged, and that they vote in 2008!

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