Millennials, with a bleak view of future, go for Clinton, survey finds

2016-10-30T184210Z_1_LYNXMPEC9T0PD_RTROPTP_3_USA-ELECTION-CLINTON.JPG
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greets tailgaters at the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats homecoming football game in Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S. October 29, 2016.

We return to the election trail today to resume the hunt for millennials, our nation's most elusive voters.

Born between 1982 and 2000, millennials now eligible to vote can pack a punch when they show up. They make up 26 percent of Pennsylvania's 8.5 million registered voters.

The Harvard Institute of Politics has been checking in on the millennial mood about the presidential election. It's not good.

Consider this quote pulled from an IOP national survey of 2,150 millennials age 18 to 29 conducted Oct. 7 to 17, and released last week:

"Everything seems out of control, and our politicians care more about themselves than doing the right thing for Americans. We're extremely divided, and very few seem to have any interest in trying to unite us."

Some of the IOP's findings: 49 percent said they are likely voters and 70 percent said they are not politically engaged. That echoes what the IOP found in a 2012 survey.

Just over half, 51 percent, said they are fearful about the future of America while 20 percent said they were hopeful.

White men and women were more likely to be fearful for the future than black or Hispanic men and women. That jumped out from the survey because 85 percent of African Americans and 72 percent of Hispanics said in the survey they feel their racial background is "under attack" in America.

Seventy-eight percent of all the millennials in the survey said they are concerned about race relations in the country. And 62 percent said things would get worse if Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, won the Nov. 8 election.

More than a third, 36 percent, said things would just stay the same if Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, won.

It appears the millennials are betting on Clinton anyway. She held a 28-point lead on Trump, 49 percent to 21 percent, in the survey. That appears to be holding steady with the results of an IOP survey conducted in April.

Her lead spikes when female, black and Hispanic voters are singled out.

Clinton has experienced a rejuvenated approval rating since that April survey, when 37 percent of the millennials had a favorable view of her. That is up to 48 percent among the likely voters now.

Trump? His unfavorable rating was 74 percent in April. It's 76 percent among likely voters now.

Some of that tracks with what the IOP found in a Philadelphia focus group on Oct. 5, when eight undecided millennials spent two hours hashing out their feelings about the presidential race. Again, it was not good.

They saw Trump as a bully with bad judgment, a potential embarrassment on the world stage.

They saw Clinton as a shady but experienced politician, hardworking but untrustworthy.

Seven of the eight said they would prefer a third term for President Obama over their 2016 options.

Obama's approval rating in the survey was 57 percent - 4.5 percent higher than an average of national polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.com.

John Della Volpe, the IOP polling director who conducted the Oct. 5 focus group, said Obama's approval rating "is the second highest number we have seen since we began tracking him." Obama's highest marks, a 59 percent approval rating, came in the fall of 2009, his first year as president.

While the future can appear bleak in the IOP survey, Bill Delahunt, the organization's interim director, said he has faith.

"I'm prepared to state unequivocally that I believe this generation can meet the challenge and begin to reconnect America," said Delahunt, a former member of the U.S. House from Massachusetts.

It won't be easy. Delahunt said that while noting this other quote pulled from the survey:

"There is a decent chance the U.S. will break apart within 50 years."

brennac@phillynews.com

215-854-5973 @ByChrisBrennan