A few months ago, my mom asked me a question that, despite becoming a staple of this election cycle, has yet to be fully answered: What is it with your generation and Bernie Sanders?
Millennials, the generation long thought to be lazy and self-involved, are supporting Sanders in droves, an unprecedented move considering not that long ago, millennials’ interest in politics and voting was well below that of older generations. According to Pew Research, only 26 percent of millennials viewed politics as a top-three interest last year.
But today, Bernie Sanders’ ascent in the presidential race and public eye can largely be credited to his resonance within the millennial group. That could be because millennials are more civically oriented than other generations and their left-leaning political attitudes fall in line with many of Sanders’ campaign issues.
In fact, a survey from CentSai found that student loans and health care costs are the major impetuses behind millennial support for Sanders. The growing concern about student loan debt was cited as the main financial worry of millennials (32 percent), and health care wasn’t far behind (24 percent).
A major talking point of Sanders’ candidacy has been the promise to make college tuition free at public institutions, as well as to cut student loan interest rates, undoubtedly an attractive offer to millennials who have racked up thousands in debt in search of a degree.
Sanders’ promise of “Medicare for all” and his pledge to wrangle health care spending may not strike a chord with fierce Obamacare objectors (in a recent debate, he mentioned that Obamacare doesn’t go far enough, and that Cuba has made significant strides in its health care initiative — two statements that probably didn’t stop any of the “Bernie is a socialist” commentary), but it’s a shift that millennials can get behind as we fall off our parents’ insurance plans.
In the poll of 2,287 millennials, nearly 56 percent say they will vote for Sanders. Clinton came in second at 24 percent, with Trump (11 percent) and Cruz (8 percent) trailing behind the Democrats.
While millennials are unequivocally “feeling the Bern,” that’s not to say this increasingly influential generation will secure Sanders the White House come Election Day.
In a separate survey by the Harvard Institute of Politics, data shows that 61 percent of 18 to 29 year olds hope a Democrat takes the White House in November, whereas only 33 percent said they would vote for a Republican. As reported by NPR, that nearly doubles the gap of a similar poll from last year, where the disparity was only 15 percentage points, with Democrats still edging out the GOP.