Fear is driving a potential surge in young adults to vote in next month's midterm elections, according to new poll results.
The pre-election survey released Monday by the Harvard Institute of Politics found that adults under 30 are significantly more likely to vote if they are afraid.
Among likely voters, 65 percent said they were more fearful than hopeful about the future of America, 8 percentage points higher than among unlikely voters.
John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Institute of Politics, said fear appears to be “a significant driver in terms of how people think about politics and part of the reason, the rationale for voting, especially among Democrats.”
There’s a significant partisan gap in fearfulness, the polling team said on a conference call with reporters. Among Democrats, 76 percent were more fearful than hopeful. Among Republicans, just 34 percent were more fearful.
The poll was conducted Oct. 3-17, before at least 14 pipe bombs were mailed to President Trump’s opponents last week and before this weekend’s mass murder of 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
Undergraduate students joined the Harvard University call. A freshman said anger may also be motivating voters, citing the negative reaction of her friends to “children being separated from their parents and being put into cages” this year as a result of the Trump administration’s since-modified “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement policy.
Although fear remains a notable factor in determining voting intentions, the latest results suggest fearfulness actually was ebbing at the time of the poll.
The Harvard Institute’s Spring survey, conducted in March, found that 64 percent of young adults were more fearful than hopeful about the country future. The latest results indicate a five-point drop to 59 percent.
The new poll results may indicate record young adult turnout, the polling team told reporters, likely benefiting Democrats who hope to reclaim the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The highest young adult turnout in any midterm election since 1986 was 21 percent, the polling team said. But 40 percent of young adults said they “definitely” will vote next month. In recent midterm elections, the "definitely" voting results exaggerated actual turnout by roughly seven to 11 percent.