Exclusive Polling: Ahead of Super Tuesday, Texans Under 40 Favor Sanders, Biden and Warren

Need for more campaign outreach to mobilize support, especially among Latinos

A donut chart showing youth support for Democratic presidential candidates among young voters, with the largest portion supporting Sanders.

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. (Feb. 18, 2020)Millennial and Gen-Z voters could be on track for a big turnout in the Texas primary next month, with support in the Democratic primary trending to Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, according to an exclusive Texas youth poll released today by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE)—the preeminent, non-partisan research center on youth engagement at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life.

Nearly 40% of Texans under 40 who were surveyed say they are “extremely likely” to vote in the primary on Super Tuesday, which would be a high level of participation for this age group. Our poll also finds that, as with the 2020 primaries and caucuses so far, Sanders is the top choice among younger voters (37%), but other candidates are garnering higher levels of support, especially Biden (25%) and Warren (18%). While interest among younger voters in Texas is high, campaign contact and outreach levels remain low at this point in the election cycle, especially for Latinos.

“There is a lot at stake in the Texas primary on Super Tuesday, including over 200 delegates. And it is clear that mobilization of voters under 40, especially Latinos, will depend on the extent to which outreach increases in the next two weeks,” said Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, director of Tisch College’s CIRCLE. “The youth vote tripled in Texas from 2014 to 2018, and interest remains high in 2020, but campaigns have a lot of work to do to reach younger voters, get them the information they need to vote, and keep them engaged.”

Explore the CIRCLE-Tisch College Texas youth poll here

Key findings include:

  • Potential for high Democratic turnout among Texans under 40. 39% of Millennial and Gen Z Texans are “extremely likely” to cast ballots in the primary, including 43% of white voters under 40 and 38% of Latinos. More than half of those who say they are “very” or “extremely” likely to vote in a primary primary plan to do so in the Democratic primary.
  • Texas Millennials and Gen-Z voters prefer Sanders, Biden and Warren. On Super Tuesday, 228 pledged delegates are on the line in the Texas Democratic primary, and voters under 40 are poised to provide a key demographic of support. Among respondents who reported an interest in voting in the Democratic primary, over one-third (37%) said they intend to support Sanders, followed by one-quarter for Biden and 18% for Warren. Most other Democratic candidates saw support in the single digits, with former Mayor Pete Buttigieg garnering 2.5% in our poll and Andrew Yang, now out of the race, at 7%. White respondents were slightly more supportive of Warren (21%) than Latino respondents, who were slightly more supportive of Biden (28%), though the differences were small.
  • More outreach and mobilization are needed in Texas. Because Texas has an open Democratic primary, in which voters who aren’t affiliated with the Democratic Party can participate, there is potential for millions of Gen Z and Millennial Texans to make their voices heard. Realizing that potential depends a good deal on whether and how often campaigns reach younger people in the next several weeks. And, according to our poll, campaigns still have a lot of work to do in this regard, especially among Latinos. Only one in three Texans under age 40 (34%) have been contacted by campaigns or parties in the last six months, which by contrast is much lower than was reported in Iowa. It’s even worse for Latinos under-40, 75% of whom have not been contacted in the past six months.

This new poll was designed by CIRCLE and conducted by YouGov. It surveyed a representative sample of Texas residents ages 18-39 who are eligible to vote, regardless of voter registration status. This survey was conducted January 13-27, 2020 and is based on online responses. The total number of respondents is 500.

CIRCLE is a nonpartisan, independent, academic research center that studies young people in politics and presents detailed data on young voters in all 50 states. CIRCLE is part of Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. Young voters are diverse in many ways, and CIRCLE will continue to release exclusive polling and analysis throughout the 2020 election cycle. Please visit circle.tufts.edu for the latest data and research.

Researchers are available for interviews. Media outlets should contact Robin Smyton at robin.smyton@tufts.edu, or 617-627-5392.

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About Tufts University

Tufts University, located on campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, Massachusetts, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.

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