The new Young American Tracking Poll (YATP) is a first-of-its-kind quarterly survey and report that focuses on the opinions and behaviors of Americans between the ages 13 and 25 on topics in politics, policy, and civic engagement.
From its annual surveying of young Americans conducted since 2013, DoSomething.org and TMI Strategy launched the YATP in order to elevate the voices of young people in discussions of national policies and priorities. The poll brings attention to the distinct ways young millennials and Gen Z participate in their civic communities, which often contrast from beliefs and actions found in the general adult population in America.
Most often, young people are defined as 18–29 and so thinly sampled that additional segmentation within the group is impossible. And for the voices of those under 18? Nothing.
Specifically, the YATP provides an alternative to the standard approaches taken by traditional polling towards young people. Most often, young people are defined as 18–29 and so thinly sampled that additional segmentation within the group is impossible. This approach mutes the nuances of youth experience and opinions. The circumstances of someone in her late teens are very different than someone in her late twenties. And even with more narrow age-bracketing, there are major differences between urban and rural youth, male and female, and so on.
And for the voices of those under 18? Nothing. Most national polls omit 13- to 18-year-olds entirely from sampling, thereby silencing millions of young people who disproportionately rely on and are impacted by policy decisions.
Summary of Key Findings
The YATP finds that young Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of Donald Trump and his policies. For all areas where a direct comparison is possible, youth disapproval of Trump exceeds that of the general population. Specifically, American youth disproportionately disagree with Trump’s actions regarding immigration and border security.
In the months since the election, young people significantly increased their participation in organized protests, their use of technology to take and promote positions on social issues, and their use of social networks to organize others to take action.
This strong disapproval of Trump corresponds with a perceptible increase in civic participation from young Americans. In the months since the election, young people significantly increased their participation in organized protests, their use of technology to take and promote positions on social issues, and their use of social networks to organize others to take action.
Self-identified young “liberals” — one third of all young people — are driving the increase in civic participation almost entirely. This group has been two to three times more likely to take action than self-identified “moderate” or “conservative” peers since the November election.
Additionally, across a broad set of issues and policy areas, America’s young people are increasingly taking sides. On nearly every issue/policy asked about in the YATP, the percent of young people with no opinion decreased following the election.
The biggest gains in agreement went almost exclusively towards traditionally liberal positions. On topics ranging from climate change, to immigration reform, to the legalization of marijuana, a new consensus is forming among young Americans.
On topics ranging from climate change, to immigration reform, to the legalization of marijuana, a new consensus is forming among young Americans.
On several issues and policy areas, young liberals diverge from young moderates and young conservatives. The Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and identification with feminism are resoundingly unpopular with young moderates and young conservatives but are popular with young liberals. On issues of religion and security, young moderates and young conservatives are noticeably more skeptical of refugees and concerned by terrorism than are their young liberal peers.
In this report, we’ll take a deep dive into:
- Part One: Young Americans Disapprove of Trump’s Performance, Policies, and Promises
- Part Two: Young Americans’ Voting Patterns Reflect Lack of Enthusiasm for the Candidates
- Part Three: After the Election, Young Americans are Choosing Sides
- Part Four: Science, Emotion, and Identity: Where Party Affiliation Matters to Young Americans
- Part Five: Post Election, Young Americans Stand Up, Speak Out, and Do Something
- Conclusion: Rising Engagement in Politics and Policy Among Young Americans But Questions Remain