MTV/AP-NORC: Political Views of Young People and Their Parents’ Generation

The second of a multiwave series of polls that explores the political attitudes of young people age 15-34. This new wave includes a sample of parents of 15-26 year olds to allow for generational comparisons.

Young people and their parents share a negative outlook on the current political landscape in America and are largely dissatisfied with the government’s handling of a wide variety of key issues, according to a new poll of Americans age 15-34, and parents of children age 15-26 by MTV and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Young people’s opinions about their generation’s ability to impact the government have shifted in recent months, following student-driven activism. Between the first poll fielded between late February and early March 2018, shortly after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, and this second poll conducted roughly two months later, young people age 15-34, and particularly those age 15-22, feel more politically empowered. The proportion overall who believe that elected officials care what they think rose from a quarter to a third, and there was a similar rise in the numbers who think people like them can impact the government.

The generation of parents of children age 15-26 is less racially and ethnically diverse and includes a greater proportion of Republicans than young people age 15-26, and the survey demographics reflect this. Parents are more likely to approve of President Donald Trump (42 percent vs. 26 percent) and are somewhat more optimistic (59 percent vs. 45 percent) than the younger generation. Still, the findings show that young people and parents are on the same page about politics in general. Majorities say they tend to agree with one another on many key issues and that their political discussions are generally amicable.

Both young people age 15-26 and parents of this age group give the federal government a grade of F more often than any other letter grade when assessing its performance on a wide variety of issues, including gun control, the cost of higher education, foreign relations, immigration, environment and climate change, health care, income inequality, taxes, sexual harassment and assault, abortion, racism, and the treatment of citizens by police and the justice system. The economy and job creation fare better, most commonly receiving grades of C from both groups.

This survey is the second in a multiwave series of polls highlighting the voices of the youngest generation of voters age 15-34, with this installment including a sample of parents of 15-26 year olds to allow for comparisons between generations. This nationwide poll by MTV and The AP-NORC Center was conducted using AmeriSpeak®, the probability-based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. It surveyed a total of 939 young people, including 148 teens age 15-17, 410 adults age 18-26, and 381 adults age 27-34, as well as 607 parents of young people age 15-26.