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Thu Apr 25, 2019, 05:57 AM

Harvard Public Opinion Project: Be Like Bernie

By Lexi Mealey | April 22, 2019


The Bernie Question

Despite millennials’ large distrust of baby boomers, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) garnered the most support from millennials of all 2020 presidential candidates in the HPOP poll, with 31 percent of respondents selecting him as their favorite candidate from the 2020 Democratic field.

It is clear that Sanders is overcoming the age gap with millennial voters by making concerted efforts at relatability. He speaks the language of tech-savvy millennials and understands the kind of policy-driven content they want to see. Most importantly, Sanders is overcoming distrust in baby boomers by setting himself apart from the rest of his cohort. Sanders openly speaks out against baby boomer-era projects, such as nuclear proliferation and foreign wars. He expresses genuine care for the future, even if it is a future that he will not likely experience himself, prioritizing policies like affordable housing, education, support for unions, and infrastructure development.

Democratic candidates who aim to capture the youth vote should focus on similar future-first policies to set themselves apart from their predecessors, who are largely distrusted by young voters. Millennials are seeking candidates who will be their political advocates and allies, holding strong to their political convictions rather than pandering to seem more electable. For Democratic candidates to win the youth vote in 2020 and beyond, it is clear that hopefuls should be like Bernie: relatable, communicative, and invested in the future.

This article is part of a series analyzing data from the Harvard Public Opinion Project’s Spring 2019 Youth Poll.


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