Black Youth Project launches unique survey of young voters

First results show differences among millennials on presidential candidates, race, immigration

Man with flag
The Black Youth Project will perform a monthly survey of more than 1,750 young adults ages 18 to 30 that pays special attention to how race and ethnicity shape their views.
Photo by
Craig Ruttle/The Associated Press
Mark Peters
News Director and Social Sciences SpecialistUniversity Communications

A new survey launched by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago uncovers the differences among young voters, who currently make up the largest and most diverse generation in the United States.

The first results from the monthly GenForward survey released July 12 show differences along racial and ethnic lines in views young people hold on the presidential candidates, race and what issues matter when voting.

Young African American, Latino and Asian American voters overwhelming prefer Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, while young whites are evenly split. On issues that matter when voting, 34 percent of African Americans rate racism as one of the three most important issues to them, while 30 percent of Latinos selected immigration as one of their top three issues.

The survey of more than 1,750 young adults ages 18 to 30 also found differences among racial and ethnic groups over access to guns and the Black Lives Matter movement. Majorities of African American, Latino and Asian American voters found it more important to control gun ownership than protect gun rights, while a majority of whites took the opposite view. As for Black Lives Matter, a majority of African American, Latino and Asian American voters said in the survey they support the movement, while such backing among white voters was considerably lower at 41 percent.

GenForward is conducted by the Black Youth Project with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The Black Youth Project was founded more than a decade ago by Cathy Cohen, the David and Mary Winton Green Professor of Political Science, to understand the challenges and opportunities faced by young people of color.

“Too often we’ll hear headlines like ‘the millennial youth vote,’” said Cohen, director of the Black Youth Project. “We know the differences, especially based on race and ethnicity, are very significant in this population, and it deserves the nuance and rigor that we apply to the general population.”

The GenForward survey uses a system of oversampling to capture how race and ethnicity shape the thinking of respondents. Its monthly nature allows tracking over time of the attitudes of young voters and provides an opportunity to capture opinions on events as they happen.

The next set of survey findings will include questions about the Orlando shooting and a proposed temporary ban on Muslims.