Bernie Sanders, the oldest candidate in the presidential race, is winning over the youngest voters.
A new poll of 18- to 35-year-olds from Rock the Vote and USA Today finds that they prefer Sanders to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, 46 percent to 35 percent.
It's not yet clear if the poll respondents are going to turn out to vote for Sanders. But it's the latest confirmation that millennials are unfazed by the prospect of voting for a self-described democratic socialist, and that Sanders's messages on education and the economy are resonating among younger voters.
Millennials are fine with socialism
Sanders's campaign has caused dictionary searches for "socialism" to spike. And for millennials, it doesn't seem to be much of a drawback. A poll in May from YouGov found that young people think nearly as highly of socialism as capitalism, and that they're more likely to see "capitalist" as an insult than "socialist."
The poll didn't ask about socialism specifically. But in December, the Harvard Institute of Politics released its own poll of 18- to 29-year-olds, and found that Sanders held a similar advantage over Clinton: 41 percent to 35 percent. Only 9 percent said Sanders's socialism made them less likely to vote for him.
Sanders had the biggest leads among younger voters, white voters, and those enrolled in college. Black and Hispanic young people, as well as those between 25 and 29, preferred Clinton.
The Rock the Vote/USA Today poll found a similar split. Sanders had the advantage among millennials as a whole, but nonwhite 18- to 35-year-olds were evenly split between Sanders and Clinton.
Now the question is whether these voters will show up to the polls. The dramatic, contested 2008 primaries nearly doubled turnout among 18- to 29-year-olds compared with 2000, the last cycle when both parties had contested primaries. It's not yet clear if a Sanders–Clinton contest on the left, and the emergence of Donald Trump on the right, will have the same magnetic power.
- If you were one of the people looking up "socialism" in the dictionary — and even if you weren't! — here are six questions you might be too embarrassed to ask.
- Sanders's popularity among millennials has been obvious for a while at his rallies. The Washington Post talked to young Sanders fans in October.
- Here's a deep dive from the Census Bureau on how the youth turnout has changed in presidential elections since 1964.