As Presidential Debate Approaches, Young Americans Say Issues and Record in Office Matter More Than Charisma and Likeability When Casting Votes For President

Nearly half say economic policies from Washington are hurting them and 76 percent plan vote in 2012

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Generation Opportunity, the largest non-profit, non-partisan organization in the United States engaging and mobilizing young Americans (ages 18-29 years old) on the important economic issues facing the nation, released new national polling data today on young adults as the 2012 presidential election nears. Since its launch in June of 2011, Generation Opportunity has amassed a following of over four million fans on Facebook and is actively organizing Millennials across America through long-term education initiatives, grassroots tactics, voter registration, and voter turnout efforts.

“As the first presidential debate nears, the message from young Americans to both presidential candidates is quite direct – if you want to earn our vote in 2012, provide us the substance and details of your plans so we can make an informed decision. Young Americans are savvy, highly independent, and they plan to learn more about the policy positions of presidential candidates this year than they did in 2008. They know their careers and dreams have been put on hold due to failed leadership and failed policies and are paying a steep personal price through record unemployment, underemployment, and an ongoing lack of economic opportunity,” said Paul T. Conway, President of Generation Opportunity and former Chief of Staff of the United States Department of Labor. “Young Americans want policies that will allow the economy to create more meaningful, full-time jobs in a career path of their choice so they can get on with their lives. This is the heart of the matter for young voters in 2012, and both candidates have the opportunity to layout their plans on how they will create more economic opportunity. Anything short of that, including White House policies that increase their dependency on their parents for health insurance or promises of more low-interest education loans, is a poor substitute for what they say they need to truly move forward.”

For Generation Opportunity, the polling company, inc./WomanTrend conducted a nationwide online survey of 1,003 adults ages 18-29 between July 27 and July 31, 2012. Randomly selected online opt-in panel participants were sent an invitation to the survey via email which included a secure link to the online questionnaire. Quotas were used to ensure the survey was representative of the larger 18-29 year old nationwide population with regard to race, region, and gender. The data were NOT weighted. The overall sampling margin of error for the survey is ±3.1% at a 95% confidence interval, meaning that the data obtained would not differ more than 3.1 percentage points in 95 out of 100 similar samples obtained.

  • 76% of Millennials plan to vote in the election for President this year.
  • 76% believe that the lack of job opportunities is shrinking the American middle class.
  • Only 38% believe that today’s political leaders reflect the interests of young Americans.
  • Which will be the more important to you in casting your vote for President in 2012?
    • 50% - A candidate’s position on issues and a record in public office;
    • 11% - A candidate’s personal characteristics, like charisma and likeability;
    • 29% - They are of equal importance (accepted only this response);
    • 4% - Neither is important / something else;
    • 5% - Do not know/cannot judge (accepted only this response).
  • 59% of Millennials agreed they will learn more about the policy positions of the presidential candidates in 2012 than they did in 2008, 29% disagreed, and 12% indicated they did not know/could not judge.
  • 47% of Millennials say that the economic policies coming out of Washington are hurting them, 29% said they were helping them, and 24% said they did not know/could not judge.
  • 64% of young people ages 18-29 believe the availability of more quality, full-time jobs upon graduation is more important than lower student loan interest rates.
  • 61% of Millennials say the availability of more quality, full-time jobs with health insurance plans is more important than the ability to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they are 26.
  • 76% believe that the lack of job opportunities is shrinking the American middle class.
  • 89% of young people ages 18-29 say the current state of the economy is impacting their day-to-day lives (Accepted multiple responses) (Randomized):
    • 51% reduced their entertainment budget;
    • 43% reduced their grocery/food budget;
    • 43% cut back on gifts for friends and family;
    • 40% skipped a vacation;
    • 38% driven less;
    • 36% taken active steps to reduce home energy costs;
    • 32% tried to find an additional job;
    • 27% sold personal items or property (cars, electronic appliances, or other possessions);
    • 26% changed their living situation (moved in with family, taken extra roommates, downgraded apartment or home);
    • 17% skipped a wedding, family reunion, or other significant social event;
    • 1% other;
    • 8% none of the above (accepted only this response);
    • 3% do not know/cannot judge (accepted only this response).
  • 84% of young people ages 18-29 had planned to but now might delay or not make at all a major life change or move forward on a major purchase due to the current state of the economy (Accepted multiple responses) (Randomized):
    • 38% - Buy their own place;
    • 32% - Go back to school/getting more education or training;
    • 31% - Start a family;
    • 27% - Change jobs/cities;
    • 26% - Pay off student loans or other debt;
    • 25% - Save for retirement;
    • 23% - Get married;
    • 12% - None of the above (accepted only this response);
    • 4% - Do not know/cannot judge (accepted only this response).


Generation Opportunity is a non-profit, non-partisan 501 (c)(4) organization that seeks to engage everyone from young adults, to early career professionals, college students, young mothers and fathers, construction workers, current service men and women, veterans, entrepreneurs, and all Americans who find themselves dissatisfied with the status quo and willing to create a better tomorrow.

Generation Opportunity operates on a strategy that combines advanced social media tactics with proven field tactics to reach Americans 18-29. The organization’s social media platforms – “Being American by GO,” “The Constitution by GO,” “Gas Prices Are Too Damn High,” “Lower Taxes by GO,” “Keep Texas Awesome,” “Jersey Proud,” and “We Like Small Government” on Facebook – have amassed a total fan base of more than 4 million. The pages post links to relevant articles and reports from sources ranging from the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO), to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Brookings Institution, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and The Heritage Foundation.

Read about Generation Opportunity here; visit “Being American by GO” on Facebook here, “The Constitution by GO” on Facebook here, “Gas Prices Are Too Damn High” on Facebook here, “Lower Taxes by GO” on Facebook here, “Keep Texas Awesome” on Facebook here, “Jersey Proud” on Facebook here, and “We Like Small Government” on Facebook here.

For our Spanish-language page – Generación Oportunidad – click here.

Generation Opportunity
Matthew Faraci, 202-997-1636 | EMAIL
David Pasch, 202-230-7947 | EMAIL

Source: Generation Opportunity