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Millennials Say They Will Vote for Clinton Against Trump

FILE - Demonstrators protest Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's guest host appearance on "Saturday Night Live" at NBC Studios in New York, Nov. 4, 2015.

A new national poll of millennials – young people born between 1982 and 2000 – shows Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton with a commanding lead over Republican Donald Trump if the two are matched up in this year’s presidential election.

The survey, conducted by Harvard University's Institute of Politics (IOP), revealed 61 percent of young Americans likely would vote for Clinton while 25 percent would support Trump.

The survey results, released Monday, also showed that millennials still prefer Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders over all others. He is the most popular presidential candidate with young people, reaching a 53 percent approval rate.

But the poll indicates that if Sanders were not nominated, millennials still would participate in the November election by voting for Clinton.

To polling director John Della Volpe, this is the Trump effect. He told reporters that Trump is helping Democrats in this election cycle, much in the same way that Republican President George W. Bush did in the 2008 election cycle. Then, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois ran against Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona.

"Trump has done more for prospective Democratic nominees than anyone since Bush," Della Volpe told VOA. "What I mean is that both turned Independents off from the GOP and allowed Obama and the Democrats an opportunity to organize."

In the minds of millennials

But Della Volpe predicted there will be a "notable" decrease in "enthusiasm" if Clinton is the candidate rather than Sanders. The poll showed Clinton with a 53 percent unfavorable view.

Within the numbers is buried a new reality. According to Della Volpe, half of millennials said they believe the American dream is dead and only 15 percent indicated the U.S. is headed in the right direction.

Millennials reject labels. Only 32 percent self-identified as patriots while 31 percent saw themselves as progressive and 27 percent as feminists. Sixteen percent identified themselves as socialists and 19 percent as capitalists.

Della Volpe said when researchers analyzed female respondents on which candidate would improve women’s lives the most, 30 percent chose Sanders.

Men and women, however, see differently on that topic. By an 11-point margin, male respondents said they believe Clinton is more likely to improve women’s lives.

The Harvard survey also shows that, for the first time in five years of polls, more millennials call themselves Democrats than independents. Obama received a 61 percent approval rate – the highest since February 2011.

Since 2015, preference for a Democratic president has nearly doubled, according to the poll. More young Americans would rather have a Democrat in the White House than a Republican, by a ratio of 61 percent to 33.

And their views of the Republican candidates were corresponding low: Only 17 percent of young Americans viewed Trump favorably, while 23 percent saw Texas Senator Ted Cruz positively. Ohio Governor John Kasich had the highest favorability rating, at 24 percent.

The poll was conducted between March 18 and April 3 and surveyed 3,183 Americans ages 18 to 29.

Survey participants were chosen at first randomly. They were invited to answer the questions over the phone or by mail.

Eighty-three million millennials now live in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. They represent a quarter of the U.S. population, surpassing the 75.4 million baby boomers, individuals born between 1946 and 1964.

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    Aline Barros

    Aline Barros is an immigration reporter for VOA’s News Center in Washington, D.C. Before joining VOA in 2016, Aline worked for the Gazette Newspapers and Channel 21 Montgomery Community Media, both in Montgomery County, Md. She has been published by the Washington Post, G1 Portal Brazilian News, and Fox News Latino. Aline holds a broadcast journalism degree from University of Maryland. Follow her @AlineBarros2.