U.S. Conference of Mayors Releases Survey of Young Voters; Concerns Mirror Priorities of the US Conference of Mayors, Demonstrate Need for Youth Engagement

Washington, D.C. – Today, at their 88th Winter Meeting, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) released the results of a survey of voters aged 18-29, highlighting the concerns of younger Americans and underscoring how closely they align with the priorities of U.S. mayors. The USCM has made youth engagement a priority, recently launching a Youth Involvement Task Force and last year hosting the first-ever Mayors National Youth Summit in Los Angeles. Continuing these efforts, the USCM commissioned a poll by John Zogby Strategies to highlight the views and attitudes of younger voters.

Respondents revealed that the economy (29%) and health care (25%) are the top issues that will decide their vote in the upcoming election. At the same time, 80% said that climate change is a “major threat to human life on earth as we know it.” And results show that even conservative young voters prioritize action on the climate and ending gun violence. In general, a slight majority (54%) believe they will be better off than their parents’ generation, but few (19%) believe the worst of the financial crisis is actually behind them. Troublingly, young voters have significant concerns about the integrity of elections, with only 38% saying they’re confident that every vote will count.

With jobs, health care, immigration, climate, and gun violence driving young voter priorities, the results of the survey significantly mirror the ideas outlined in the USCM’s Mayors’ Vision for America: A 2020 Call to Action. This election-year policy agenda released last month, lays out bipartisan solutions to a range of challenges, including those identified as being of greatest importance by young voters. Details on that agenda can be found here.

A PDF of the Young Voter Survey’s findings can be found HERE.

“The priorities of young people are the priorities of American mayors,” said USCM President Bryan Barnett, Mayor of Rochester Hills, MI. “This is a generation that understands the serious challenges that we face and is demanding that leaders take bold action. Mayors have made youth engagement a major priority, and this survey shows that there is a tremendous opportunity to work together to solve generational problems.”

“Young Americans are not just our future; they are our today,” added USCM Youth Involvement Task Force Co-Chair Shane Bemis, Mayor of Gresham, OR. “Any leader who underestimates this generation do so at their own peril. The young people who we are involving at the local level are engaged, informed, and inspiring. More than just listening to them, we must work arm-in-arm to set aside politics in pursuit of a better America.”

“Whether it’s crises of gun violence, climate change, or of financial collapse, this is a generation that has been exposed to serious challenges, and they want serious answers,” said USCM Youth Involvement Task Force Co-Chair Michelle De La Isla, Mayor of Topeka, KS. “At all levels of government we have an obligation to engage these younger Americans and show them that we can overcome partisanship and politics to give them the opportunities they deserve.”

Key findings of the survey, based on results from 1,002 likely voters, include:

  • On climate change:
    • 80% say that global warming is a major threat to human life on earth as we know it.
    • Furthermore, young voters feel the climate crisis warrants taking “bold measures”, by a margin of three to one (58% to 21%).
    • In the absence of strong federal action, a combined 74% of the sample agrees that states and cities should step up in addressing global warming.
  • On gun violence:
    • With nearly one-third of respondents identifying as having a friend or relative who has been directly affected by gun violence, 45% of all respondents felt universal background checks would be most likely to curb gun violence, nearly one-third felt red flag laws would be most effective.
    • Nearly one-third of respondents indicated that they do not feel safe in their communities as a result of gun violence.
  • On immigration: 56% prefer that Dreamers be granted the rights of US citizens.
  • On the economy and their job outlook: Only 19% of these cohorts feel that the “worst of the financial crisis” of a decade ago is behind them.
  • In advance of the 2020 elections, 75% said they are either definitely or very likely to vote in a state caucus or primary.

Conducted by John Zogby Strategies, the online survey was conducted on December 9th – December 11th, 2019.  The margin of error for the sample of 1,002 is +/- 3.2 percentage points.