Millennials Highly Engaged in 2016 Election, Favor Clinton over Trump by Wide Margin, New USA TODAY/Rock the Vote Poll Finds

A new USA TODAY/Rock the Vote Poll of Millennials, conducted by Ipsos, finds Hillary Clinton is consolidating the support — but not yet the enthusiasm — of the young adults who backed Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. In the survey, Clinton trounces Donald Trump by 36 percentage points nationally (56%-20%) among Americans ages 18 to 34; nearly one in four either are undecided or don’t plan to vote.
With third-party candidates in the race, Clinton leads Trump 50% to 18%, with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson receiving 11% and the Green Party’s Jill Stein trailing with just 4% of the vote.

The survey also shows that the Democratic convention boosted Clinton a bit, but the Republican convention was a catastrophe for Trump with Millennials. In the week following the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, just 19% of Millennials surveyed said that they paid no attention to the major party conventions.

The poll also finds that young Americans are increasingly engaged in the 2016 election, with 90% saying that they have given at least some thought to the 2016 election and 72% of those surveyed saying they are likely to vote in November.

“Millennial voters and their lopsided support for Barack Obama played a key role in the last two presidential elections,” said Susan Page, USA TODAY’s Washington Bureau chief. “In our new poll, Hillary Clinton wins even more lopsided support among the largest generation in American history. But there’s still a warning flag here: She doesn’t yet generate the sort of enthusiasm that would guarantee high turnout in November.”

In an increasingly negative campaign environment, majorities of Clinton and Trump supporters are driven by a desire to keep the other candidate out of the oval office. Of the quarter of Millennials who say they would not vote or do not know who they would vote for, almost two-thirds (62%) say it is because they do not like any of the candidates. Notably, 70% of those surveyed thought sexism plays a role in hostility toward Hillary Clinton, including 72% of young men and 50% of young Republicans.

The new poll results also indicate that Millennials are highly invested in key policy issues. Those surveyed generally prioritized the economy, jobs, the minimum wage and paid leave; foreign policy, terrorism and homeland security; education, college affordability and student debt; and civil rights, mass incarceration and criminal justice reform as the most important issues for the next President of the United States. Majorities also agreed that police violence against African Americans (72%) is a key problem that the nation is currently facing.

“As the nation’s largest and most diverse generation in history, Millennial voters are a juggernaut this cycle,” said Jesse Moore, Rock the Vote Vice President of Civic Engagement. “Young people are passionate about the issues, and we’re ready to fight for a future that is as just and inclusive as we are. Any candidate that chooses to ignore the Millennial vote does so at their own peril.”

In the 2008 and 2012 elections, Millennial voters proved to be a decisive force in key battleground states, according to an analysis by the Center for Research and Information on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.

Key Findings:

–       Overall standing: Hillary Clinton trounces Donald Trump among Millennials, 56%-20%. Nearly one in four say they either won’t vote (15%) or aren’t sure (9%).

–       Bernie Sanders repercussions: Clinton is backed by 72% of the 18-to-34-year-olds who say they used to back Sanders. Donald Trump is supported by 11%. Another 11% say they won’t vote, and 6% are undecided. But the enthusiasm level of Millennials has dipped since the poll in March, when Sanders was still a candidate, raising questions about turnout among these voters. The percentage most likely to vote has dropped to 72% from 76% in March; those seen as not very likely to vote has ticked up slightly to 9% from 7%.

–       Motivation: The top reason Clinton supporters give for supporting her is that she has the right experience to lead (57%). The top reason Trump supporters give for supporting him is to keep Clinton out of the White House (54%).

–       Convention effect: 72% of Millennials paid attention to the major parties’ nominating conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia.

o   The Democratic convention made young voters see Clinton as somewhat more presidential (39%) and more human (35%). But it didn’t improve perceptions of her trustworthiness, a key vulnerability for her.

o   The Republican convention made a majority of young voters see Trump as less presidential (52%) less credible (51%) and less trustworthy (50%) and by significant margins he was seen as less human (46%) and less accessible (40%).

–       Third-party candidates: In a four-way ballot test, Clinton is at 50%, Trump at 18%, Libertarian Gary Johnson at 11% and Jill Stein at 4%.

–       Key Issues:

o   Sexism: 70% of Millennials say sexism plays some role in hostility towards Clinton; 39% say it is a major reason.

o   Police Violence: Since January more Millennials agree that police violence against African Americans is a problem — 72%, up 11 points from 61% in January. 77% agree that they are concerned for the safety of police officers.

On behalf of USA TODAY and Rock the Vote, Ipsos surveyed a sample of 1,539 adults age 18-34 from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii on August 5-10, 2016. The interview was conducted online in English. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of +/- 3.1 percentage points.


Founded in 1982, USA TODAY delivers high-quality, engaging content through unique visual storytelling across all platforms. An innovator of news and information, USA TODAY reflects the pulse of the nation and serves as the host of the American conversation — today, tomorrow, and for decades to follow. USA TODAY is the nation’s number one newspaper. USA TODAY’s award winning news sites reach more than 85M unique visitors a month across its all of its digital platforms with more than 20M application downloads. USA TODAY is owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI).

About Rock the Vote:

Rock the Vote is the largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization in the country driving the youth vote to the polls. Since 1990, Rock the Vote has fused pop culture, music, art and technology to fulfill its mission of building long-term youth political power. During the past six Presidential elections, Rock the Vote ran the largest voter registration drives for young people and has partnered with more than 25,000 partners through its online, multi-lingual voter registration tool. Rock the Vote is dedicated to mobilizing the vote, protecting voting rights and advocating for an electoral process and voting system that works for the Millennial generation, America’s largest and most diverse population in history. To get Rock the Vote updates on upcoming events, election reminders and candidate, visit Engage on social media, by following Rock the Vote on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @rockthevote.