The Forbes Under 30 Voter Survey, powered by Zogby, the largest polling project of young voters, shows that Senator Bernie Sanders remains the strong favorite among the 18- to 29-year-old electorate, with 32% support among likely Democratic voters. The real surprises come after that. The only other candidate in double digits: former Vice President Joe Biden, at 16%, undermining the conventional wisdom that he lacks support among this segment. Elizabeth Warren garners just 9%—a virtual tie with the race’s newcomer, billionaire former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, and barely ahead of social entrepreneur Andrew Yang (8%).
In worse news for the Massachusetts senator, she’s the second choice of only 13% of young Democrats, compared with Biden at 16% and Sanders at 14%. Among Sanders voters, Biden (not his fellow progressive) sits as the top second choice, at 25%. Similarly, among young Biden voters, Sanders (not a fellow moderate) is the second choice, at 41%. To be clear, the four favorites among voters under 30, the most diverse demographic in American history and one that has expressed a strong need for change, are all white candidates in their 70s.
Perhaps more surprising: the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg, the youngest candidate, has practically no support among Millennials or Generation Z. He generates just over 3% support among likely Democratic primary voters under 30, which places him in a virtual tie at the absolute bottom, with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and his fellow Millennial, Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard. Even 62-year-old hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer (4%) is ahead of him. And there doesn’t appear to be an easy road for improvement: Just 5% list Buttigieg as their second choice.
The Forbes Under 30 Voter Survey, powered by Zogby, polled 1,014 American voters age 18 to 29—including 650 likely Democratic voters. The Millennial and Gen-Z voters, reached via email and text messages, are drawn from a large sampling of U.S. households, and then directed to an online survey. Conducted on January 19 and 20, 2020, it carries a margin of error of 3.1%, or 3.9% among just the likely Democratic primary voters. It is the first in a series of monthly polls that will be conducted with 10,000 unique voters 18-29 by Forbes Under 30 Voter Survey over the course of this pivotal election year
Young Democrats remain more idealistic than most other voters. Some 58% want to support a candidate who “stands on principle” versus 31% who want to support someone who will beat Trump. In a head-to-head among all young voters, Sanders beats President Trump 58% to 34%, versus 51% to 35% for Biden, 51% to 36% for Warren and 50% to 34% for Bloomberg. Buttigieg again fares relatively poorly, polling ahead of Trump 47% to 35%.
Any of these candidates is going to need to shore up young undecided voters if he or she is going to beat Trump: Barack Obama carried 66% and 60% of young voters in 2008 and 2012, respectively, according to Pew Research Center.
This month’s impeachment trial doesn’t seem poised to move the electoral needle at all. While solid majorities of young voters believe Trump is guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of justice, by 59% to 33%, and should be removed from office, by 54% to 37%, when asked whether the proceedings would affect their vote, the results revealed a perfect mirror: 32% saying it made them more likely to support Trump and 32% less likely, with the rest saying it either made no difference or they weren’t sure. In this regard, young voters seem as polarized as the electorate overall.
The Under 30 Voter Survey, which measures sentiment among this historically under-polled demographic, is an important barometer of what this community is thinking politically, a precursor to deciding who will earn the Democratic nomination, as well as a sign of what could happen in the next five to 10 years as young cohort becomes the next wave of leaders in business and society.