The new USC/L.A. Times poll released over the weekend shows that the views of younger voters are markedly shifting political views on a variety of issues in California, from healthcare reform to same-sex marriage to immigration policy.
The phenomenon is most pronounced in voter views on same-sex marriage. The poll found, as did this month's Public Policy Institute of California poll, that a majority of likely California voters (52 percent) now support same-sex marriage. Among voters 18-29, the support is overwhelming: 72-24. It's also very strong among those 30-44, with 60 percent in support and 35 percent opposed. Support drops to 49-43 among those 45-64, and those 65 and over are strongly opposed, 35-53.
The age-based divide on that issue has been well reported in the past. But this poll shows the same age divide coming into play on other issues.
On healthcare reform, among all likely voters, 52 percent said the nation will be better off under the law signed by President Obama late last month. Among those 18-29, 64 percent felt that way. Notably, 27 percent of those in that age group said they do not now have health insurance, while only 8 percent of those 45-64 were without coverage and only 1 percent of those over 65.
And on immigration reform, young voters are much more supportive of providing social services to illegal immigrants than voters at large. Among all voters, 31 percent believe all social services should be denied to illegal immigrants, but only 22 percent of those 18-29 hold that view. "The single greatest determinate on that issue is age," said Dan Schnur, director of USC's Unruh Institute of Politics. "These numbers represent a sea change."
Interestingly, the age variations aren't tremendously significant when it comes to assessing various political candidates -- except for evaluating President Obama. His favorability rating among all California voters is a strong 64 percent, but among voters 18-29 that number is an astronomical 78 percent.