Poll Shows Young Voters Are Finally Coming Through for Hillary Clinton

October 25, 2016, 6:28 AM UTC
AP Poll Campaign 2016 Young Americans
FILE - In this June 21, 2016 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes a photo with supporters after speaking at Fort Hayes Vocational School in Columbus, Ohio. A new poll finds that young voters are starting to come through for Clinton, particularly among whites ages 18 to 30. In the final days of the campaign, Clinton is shored up what was once a troubling weakness in a key voting bloc, a sign of strength that helps explain how the former secretary of state may be able to expand her campaign into traditionally Republican states. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)
AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File

Liane Golightly has finally decided who she’ll vote for on Election Day. Hillary Clinton is not a choice the 30-year-old Republican would have predicted, nor one that excites her. But the former supporter of Ohio Gov. John Kasich says it’s the only choice she can make.

“I kind of wish it were somebody else, somebody that I could really get behind 100%,” said Golightly, an educator from Monroe, Michigan. She’s voting for Clinton, she said, only because she can’t stomach “childish” Donald Trump.

Like Golightly, many young voters are coming over to Clinton in the closing stretch of the 2016 campaign, according to a new GenForward poll of Americans 18 to 30.

Driving the shift are white voters, who were divided between the two candidates just a month ago and were more likely to support GOP nominee Mitt Romney than President Barack Obama in 2012.

In the new GenForward survey, Clinton leads among all young whites 35% to 22%, and by a 2-to-1 margin among those who are likely to vote. Clinton held a consistent advantage among young African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Hispanics in earlier GenForward polls, as she does in the new survey.

The new poll also suggests enthusiasm for voting has recently increased among young African-Americans, 49% of whom say they will definitely vote in November after only 39% said so in September. Just over half of young whites, and about 4 in 10 Hispanics and Asian-Americans, say they will definitely vote.

GenForward is a survey of adults age 18 to 30 by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The first-of-its-kind poll pays special attention to the voices of young adults of color, highlighting how race and ethnicity shape the opinions of a new generation.

Overall, Clinton leads Trump among young likely voters 60% to 19%, with 12% supporting Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson and 6% behind the Green Party’s Jill Stein. If Clinton and Trump receive that level of support on Election Day, Clinton would match Obama’s level of 2012 while Trump would fall short of Romney’s.

It’s not necessarily because they like Clinton, but is nevertheless a late sign of strength among a voting bloc that the former secretary of state has struggled to win over.

“There’s a gray area with her, where maybe she hasn’t broken any laws, but she’s always skirting the edge, it seems,” said Galen Mosher, 30, a lighting technician from Sandy, Oregon, who voted for Clinton’s primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Mosher, who is white, said he got behind Clinton once she won the Democratic nomination, because “at least she’s a step” toward the free college tuition and higher taxes for wealthy people that Sanders had proposed.

The poll also provides evidence that Trump’s behavior toward women has hurt him among young voters, while Clinton’s characterization of a large portion of the New York billionaire’s supporters as “deplorable” did not damage her candidacy.

For more on the 2016 race, watch Fortune’s video:

The GenForward survey included interviews both before and after the release of a 2005 recording on which Trump brags about sexually assaulting women. But support for Trump didn’t shift among young voters overall or among young whites after the tape was released, suggesting the shift in young whites to Clinton came first.

All of the poll interviews, however, were conducted after the first presidential debate, when Clinton told the story of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado and Trump’s assessment of her as a “Miss Piggy” after she gained weight. Most young people across racial and ethnic lines say that Clinton’s accusations in that debate about Trump’s behavior made them less likely to support the GOP nominee.

Most young people weren’t turned off by Clinton calling some Trump supporters “deplorable” in September. Sixty-two percent of young adults, including 82% of African-Americans, three-quarters of Latinos and Asian-Americans and 51% of whites said they agree with her assessment.

The poll also found that 45% of young adults have a favorable view of Clinton, while just 17% say the same of Trump. Conversely, half have an unfavorable view of Clinton and 77% have that view of Trump.

Young whites say they have a more favorable view of Clinton now than going into the fall. Among that group, three-quarters have an unfavorable view of Trump now, up from 67% in September.

The survey also showed young whites are slightly less likely to see Trump as qualified to be president, down from 30% in September to 24%.

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