Survey conducted by SocialSphere Inc. for the McCain Institute analyzed 18- to 29-year-old-Arizonans’ views toward democracy, politics, and civic engagement
~Click HERE to view the poll findings~
The McCain Institute at Arizona State University this week hosted a discussion on the findings of a poll conducted by SocialSphere Inc. examining young Arizona voters’ views toward the recent midterm elections, the future of Arizona, barriers to civic engagement and voting, and the degree to which state and federal officials understand their values and vision.
“I would argue that this youth electorate is very engaged – if not the most engaged in many years and many generations,” said John Della Volpe, founder and CEO of SocialSphere Inc. and director of Polling at Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics. “We found that over a half of young Arizonans actually spent time researching the candidates or the issues that they were unfamiliar with before voting. In addition, nearly that many indicated over the last couple of years they volunteered in some significant way in community service, with more than a third engaged in politics via social media tools, or sharing their opinion.”
Indicating an era of activism, the survey found significant numbers of young Arizonans engaging in civic life: 43% of young, registered Arizonans indicated that they voted in the 2022 midterm elections, 51% spent time researching candidates or political issues that were unfamiliar to them, 36% shared or posted political content on social media, and 24% attended a political event, rally, or demonstration.
When asked to choose which issue was most important to their vote in the midterm elections young Arizonans ranked inflation (32%) and abortion (30%) above all else — with democracy (12%), climate change (11%), immigration (7%), and crime (7%) following behind. Seventy-eight percent of young Arizonans reported cost of living as a “very important” issue along with housing (74%), health care (73%), protecting individual rights and freedoms (72%), mental health (70%), K-12 education (68%), reproductive rights (68%), and the economy (67%).
The McCain Institute hosted an event examining the findings of the poll and the political behavior of young swing voters. The panel featured Della Volpe, John S. McCain Democracy Fellow Sofia Haft, Voter Education Manager at Citizens Clean Elections Commission Avery D. Xola, and McCain Institute Director of Democracy Programs Paul Fagan.
“We are obviously seeing people being turned off from getting into politics, and that was one of the things that came out of this poll. It’s not just the confidence in or likeability of candidates, but what these people have to go through as candidates,” said Fagan. “At the same time, we are also seeing incredible amounts of people coming in and participating in the electoral process, civic engagement, and whatnot.”
“Over 70% of races went uncontested and only 6% of candidates were under the age of 35, meaning most races don’t have a challenger — and they certainly don’t have a challenger that is reflective of the most diverse generation in American history. And so, one of the things we really want to get a lot smarter about is how we can make sure that we’re encouraging public office as a real career that more young people across the country consider,” said Haft. “If you want to make a difference in education, there are real positions in your community that you can run for and make a difference on.”
“We need to meet the young voters where they are in their lives, so we’re going to need to have a certain amount of innovation and creativity,” said Xola. “We should be collaborating with school districts to create a civic engagement program for grades third and fourth, when young voters have civics. By talking to children at a young age, they’re more likely to grow up to become lifelong voters.”