Oct 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

College Reaction poll: More college students would protest Trump win

Data: College Reaction/Axios Poll; Note: 3.3% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: College Reaction/Axios Poll; Note: 3.3% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Six in 10 college students say they'll shame friends who can vote but don't — and four in 10 plan to engage in protests if President Trump wins reelection, a new College Reaction survey for Axios finds.

Why it matters: These measures of intensity bolster findings from several recent surveys that suggest the election may draw higher than normal turnout from young voters, boosting Joe Biden's prospects — and fueling mass demonstrations if Trump prevails.

  • Just 3% of the students surveyed said they would protest if Joe Biden were elected.
  • "Political expression is etched into this generation's DNA," College Reaction founder Cyrus Beschloss told Axios. "Vote-hooky won't just draw side-eye, it could bruise a student's reputation in some social circles. Civic engagement is cool now."

The big picture: Millennials and Generation Z voters make up more than one third of the U.S. electorate. They're racially and ethnically diverse and overwhelmingly progressive.

  • Democrats have long struggled to get younger Americans to show up at the polls. But this year, there are signs they could vote at levels not seen since Barack Obama's 2008 election.
  • A Harvard Kennedy School survey released last month found that 63% of 18-to-29 year olds said they'll "definitely" vote this year, 16 percentage points higher than 2016.
  • More than 1 million 18-29 year olds have already cast ballots this year, more than four times as many as at the same point in 2016, according to the Democratic data firm TargetSmart.

The latest: The coronavirus has triggered a surge in early voting.

  • Older people are voting early at higher rates than young people, but more than 229,000 first-time voters under 30 have already cast ballots, up from 87,000 at this point in 2016.
  • And TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier tells Axios that because young voters are considered less vulnerable to the virus, many may turn out in person on election day.

Methodology: The poll was conducted Oct. 6-7, 2020, from a representative sample of 875 college students. The margin of error is +/- 3.3 percentage points. College Reaction’s polling is conducted using a demographically representative panel of college students from around the country. The surveys are administered digitally.

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