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Poll: After education, young people diverge on 2016 issues

By Jesse J. Holland and Emily Swanson Associated Press

WASHINGTON – When it comes to picking a new president, young people in America are united in saying education is what matters most. But there’s a wide split in what else will drive their votes.

For African-American adults between the ages of 18 and 30, racism is nearly as important as education. For young Hispanics, it’s immigration. And for whites and Asian-Americans in the millennial generation, it’s economic growth.

The results from the new GenForward poll highlight big differences among young Americans who often are viewed as a monolithic group of voters – due in no small part to their overwhelming support for President Barack Obama during his two campaigns for president.

GenForward is a survey by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The first-of-its-kind poll pays special attention to the voices of young adults of color.

Among the most striking findings: Young African-Americans are significantly more likely than other racial and ethnic groups to say racism is a top issue when it comes to choosing a candidate for president. A third of blacks between 18 and 30 chose racism as one of the top issues that will affect their votes.

Lakevia Davis, 24, of Montgomery, Alabama, said the toll from the police shootings in the past few years has moved race to the top for her and other young blacks.

“The civil rights movement was only 50 years ago, but we’re still fighting the same fight,” she said. “It’s a just as big a deal for other races, but it’s just not as public as it is for us.”

In the poll, 8 in 10 young African-Americans called racism a major problem. They were joined by 3 in 4 young Hispanics, more than 3 in 5 Asian-Americans and a little more than half of young whites.

The poll was taken before last week’s slayings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the shooting deaths of five police officers in Dallas that followed.

The GenForward poll also found unemployment was almost as important an issue to young African-Americans as police brutality.

The poll showed major support for the Black Lives Matter movement among African-Americans polled – 84 percent.

Support for Black Lives Matter polled at 68 percent for Asian-Americans, 53 percent for Hispanics and 41 percent for whites.

“Over time, things change and get better, but it’s not there yet,” said 29-year-old Galen Mosher of Portland, Oregon, who is white and supports Black Lives Matter.

“If we can’t have some kind of understanding … then we can’t build the trust,” he said.

The poll of 1,965 adults was conducted June 14-27. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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