Monday, October 30, 2006

Election 2006: Young voters: Confident, concerned, conservative

Summary of an article in Sunday's Morning Call. Full article here.

Fully half of Pennsylvania's young voters list the Iraq conflict as the most important issue facing the nation today, a Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll of 18-to-25 year-old voters has found. The poll, done in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Society of Newspaper Editors, collected the opinions of 460 such voters between Oct. 19 and Tuesday. Its margin of error is plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

Just who are they? Part of a group born between 1978 and 1989 that numbers roughly 70 million, the fastest-growing part of the American work force. As a rule, Gen Y tends to be more goal-oriented than their older cousins, the famed Generation X.

Nationally, members of Gen Y typically identify themselves as liberal or Democratic, and they tend to support such controversial causes as same-sex marriage and abortion rights. But their local counterparts lean more to the right.

These are young Pennsylvanians cautiously optimistic about the future of their state and brimming with confidence that they can help shape it. Although they expect to stay in the state at least five years, they express concerns about the cost of higher education and their chances of employment after graduation.

Young voters are torn about the direction their home state is taking. Forty-four percent believe Pennsylvania is moving in the right direction, compared with 37 percent who believe it's losing its way.

Placed alongside a poll of all state voters (52 percent said the state is moving in the right direction; 36 percent said the wrong direction) conducted last month by Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania's young adults come off as slightly more pessimistic than their elders.

On other issues, 88 percent of the state's young voters believe the world is a more dangerous place than it was 10 years ago, 51 percent believe the government has been too aggressive in restricting civil liberties, and 57 percent expect Social Security benefits will be a thing of the past by the time they retire.

While more likely to identify themselves as Democratic rather than Republican (49 percent to 42 percent), Pennsylvania's young voters describe themselves as more conservative than liberal (55 percent to 42 percent).

There are 1.9 million people in Pennsylvania in the 18-29 age group — about one in six people in the state. And 74 percent of those asked in The Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll said they were definitely going to vote on Nov. 7

Whatever your position, get an opinion and go vote on Nov. 7th. Don't know where your polling place is? Click here to find out.

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