Most American Millennials Don't Know Candidates Running in Their Districts, Poll Finds

A poll of American millennials found that most did not know the candidates running in their congressional districts. Yet most said they planned to vote in the upcoming midterm elections, which could be good news for the Democrats.

Of the 1,881 adults between the ages of 18 and 34 polled by NBC News/GenForward Millennial, 59 percent said they were not familiar with their local candidates, although 57 percent said they would likely vote on November 6.

And of those likely to vote, 49 percent said they would back a Democratic candidate compared with 29 percent who said they would support a Republican; 21 percent said they were still unsure about which party they would choose.

Millennials said the quality most important to them in a candidate was "someone who can bring about needed change," which came out on top at 31 percent. Next was "someone who shares their values" at 25 percent, followed by "someone who is honest and trustworthy" at 19 percent.

On the issues, health care was the most important to millennials, at 11 percent. Then came immigration at 8 percent, income inequality at 7 percent, with the environment and climate change, gun control and education tied at 6 percent.

Millennials gave a low approval rating to President Donald Trump, with 59 percent saying they disapproved of him. Fifty-four percent said they disapproved of Congress, with 63 percent saying it did not represent their interests, compared with 35 percent who said it did.

FiveThirtyEight's poll tracker, which takes an average from all the major polls, said that in the final days before the midterms, Democrats led Republicans by 50.4 percent to 41.9 percent.

Democrats are tipped to win control of the House of Representatives, though they face a difficult battle for the Senate, which looks likely to stay in Republican hands.

To win the Senate, Democrats must successfully defend 10 seats in states that voted for President Trump in 2016, while gaining two additional seats in traditionally red states.

With a lot of the outcome depending on young people showing up on November 6, historically they have not been shown to vote in the same numbers as those in middle age and older. According to Pew, younger voters made up 53 percent of eligible voters in the 2014 midterms. Yet they cast only 36 million votes compared with the 57 million cast by older voters.

"If past turnout patterns hold—and taking into account that each generation has aged four years since 2014—the data suggest that Gen Xers, Millennials and post-Millennials would not be a majority of voters in 2018," wrote Richard Fry, a senior researcher at Pew, in August.

"More specifically, extending the historical trends forward, one would expect that roughly 47 million of the votes cast in 2018 would come from these three younger generations (up from 36 million in 2014), compared with 55 million votes cast by Boomer and older voters.

"The analytical catch: There are, of course, no guarantees the past will repeat itself. If the younger generations were to turn out to vote at the rates Boomers did when they were younger, post-Millennials, Millennials and Gen Xers would account for the majority of votes."

millennial voters
Kelvin Mote, left, and Ashlynn Long, right, both college freshman at the University of Texas at Arlington, are at a campaign rally for Representative Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat, in Plano, Texas, on September 15. A majority of millennial voters said they planned to vote in the midterms, although most did now know who the candidates were. LAURA BUCKMAN/AFP/Getty Images