Race, Ethnicity Affect Young Voters’ Views On Election | WBEZ
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Race, Ethnicity Affect Young Voters’ Views On Election

A new survey of young voters reveals that Hillary Clinton has a lot of work to do to motivate blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans and whites if she wants to win the presidential race in November and replicate the coalition Barack Obama formed in 2008 and 2012.

GenForward is a survey of the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago, with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It’s the first survey of its kind, a national sample of young adults age 18-30.

Young people have vast differences of opinion based on race. African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans overwhelmingly prefer Democrat Clinton to Republican Donald Trump, whereas whites are split. But the candidate who appealed to most young people regardless of race was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“If I were in the Hillary Clinton camp, I’d be worried. If I was in the Donald Trump camp, I’d be panicked. It’s clear that young people across race and ethnicity have deep levels of disdain for Donald Trump,” said Cathy J. Cohen, one of the study’s authors and political scientist professor at the University of Chicago.

“For Hillary Clinton there is more support but there is no way the levels of excitement or support that we saw for Barack Obama in 2008 or even Bernie Sanders in this election period,” Cohen said. A significant number of young people of color said they may sit this election out.

Clinton and Trump suffer from negatives that can prove to be hurdles for the candidates. Clinton is perceived as dishonest (48 percent of blacks; 57 percent of Asian Americans; 64 percent of Latinos and 82 percent of whites) and Trump as a racist (60 percent of blacks; 69 percent of Asian Americans; 59 percent of whites and 68 percent of Latinos.) Many surveyed say they are undecided. Still, Clinton is viewed more positively than Trump.

Race also factors in the issues young voters are most passionate about. Latinos rank immigration high and African Americans say police brutality is important. Income inequality is important to young people of color.

Views on race and racism show a deep divide. Eighty percent of blacks say racism is a major problem; 54 percent of whites agree. 

“There’s been a myth out there that the election of the first black president signaled the entry of a new post-racial moment,” Cohen said. “The killing of young black men makes it clear we’re not post racial. The denigration of Latinos and Asian Americans and immigrants makes it clear we’re not post racial. Our data also make it clear there are really differences in how young African Americans and Latinos and Asian Americans understand the significance of race and how whites do.”

 is WBEZ’s South Side Bureau reporter. You can follow her on Twitter.

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