New data supplied to me by the Harvard Youth Poll sheds light on the powerful undercurrents driving these developments. Young voters have shifted in a markedly progressive direction on multiple issues that are deeply important to them: Climate change, gun violence, economic inequality and LGBTQ+ rights.
John Della Volpe, director of the poll, refers to those issues as the “big four.” They all speak to the sense of precarity that young voters feel about their physical safety, their economic future, their basic rights and even the ecological stability of the planet.
“This generation has never felt secure — personally, physically, financially,” Della Volpe told me.
Here’s a chart showing how opinion among 18-to-29-year-olds has shifted on those issues, according to data that the Harvard Youth Poll crunched at my request:
Those numbers — which come from the Harvard Youth Poll of 18-to-29-year-olds released each spring — all suggest that today’s young voters are substantially more progressive on these issues than young voters were even five or 10 years ago. Sizable majorities now reject the idea that same-sex relationships are morally wrong (53 percent), support stricter gun laws (63 percent) and want government to provide basic necessities (62 percent).
They are not enthusiastic about Biden.
Yet national developments could continue exerting a powerful pull on these voters. For example, the chart above suggests that Trump’s rise to the presidency might have accelerated their progressive evolution. The former president continues looming over our politics and will likely be the GOP nominee.
“That data clearly shows a Zoomer Trump effect,” Della Volpe, the author of a book about Gen Z, told me. “Every single variable has gotten more progressive.”