Introduction

Every fall and spring, the Harvard Public Opinion Project (HPOP) releases America's largest poll of young people. The poll usually gets a great deal of national coverage. Unfortunately, much of this coverage only goes skin deep, highlighting the supposed apathy of young people in America and our cynicism about the future of politics. This project, a partnership between HPOP and the HPR, aims to provide some additional context and analysis. Indeed, on everything from ISIS to their stance toward climate change, millennials do not seem to fit any convenient political mold. They are deep-thinking, conflicted, and crucial to America's future. Read our analysis of the most recent HPOP poll to find out more.   Image source: Pete Souza/White House Flickr Account  

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HPRgument Posts | December 10, 2015 at 10:05 am

Trump’s Wall Finds Support Among Youth  

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One of Donald Trump’s first declarations in this presidential election cycle was that he intended to erect a wall along the border between the United States and Mexico to curb the influx of immigrants into the United States. His comments elicited immediate backlash from politicians and media pundits alike, who criticized the plan for its insensitivity and implausibility. Since then, Trump has taken to the airwaves to rally support for his proposal.

“We’re going to do a wall; we’re going to have a big, fat beautiful door on the wall; we’re going to have people come in, but they’re going to come in legally,” he said during the third Republican debate.

Initially, Americans were led to wonder if there would ever be any supporters for this radical proposal. However, data from the most recent Harvard Public Opinion Project poll found that support exists amongst a sizable minority of young Americans. Although 53 percent of those polled are opposed to the proposal, 43 percent said that they support the construction of the barrier along the border.

Of those who showed support for the wall, 61 percent disapproved of President Obama’s tenure in office, compared to the 28 percent that approved. Obama, who has used a series of executive orders to prevent nearly five million undocumented immigrants from being deported from the country, has struck a more welcoming tone toward immigrants.

IOP wall

Interestingly, of the 40 percent of respondents who self-identified as independent, 42 percent supported the erection of the proposed barrier, while 56 percent opposed the idea. For Trump, whose historically nebulous political affiliation has come under criticism from opponents, this data might actually show promise for his campaign prospects. However, it may may not necessarily spell success for Trump in the polls, as a glaring 78 percent of the respondents identified as not politically active. To enjoy success, Trump would have to develop a plan to transform the apathetic voting body into supporters.

Amid discussions about the possibility of growing xenophobia in the United States, the results of this poll offer insight into the political leanings of younger Americans, showing that there is a significant group of young voters who support anti-immigration policy. Whether that ideological specification will translate into victory in the polls for Trump is still unclear, as the myriad of controversial comments that he makes could alienate voters—perhaps even those would otherwise be sympathetic to his policies.

 

Image source: Harvard Public Opinion Project

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