But many of them also oppose what they see as an outdated Democratic establishment. And they don’t necessarily think replacing Mr. Trump will make their lives better.
“Beating Trump is important to me, but that is not the primary issue of this campaign,” said Adam Miller, 24, who lives in Chicago and voted for Mr. Sanders. “When I hear Bernie speak about the bold action he wants to take against climate change, I see a future where I can consider starting a family again. When he talks about canceling student debt, medical debt and recognizing health care as a human right, I see a life for myself where I can live without these financial burdens.”
Young conservatives, of course, do not want the same policies as young liberals — but many of them express the same disillusionment with their leaders, and the same sense that neither party is addressing their needs.
In particular, young Republicans tend to be more liberal than older ones on issues of gender, sexual orientation, race and multiculturalism.
“The older people in my party are more wedded to preserving culture than preserving liberty,” said Natalia Castro, 23, who grew up in rural Florida and now works in Washington. “A lot of older conservatives are a lot slower to advocate for legal immigration because they’re concerned with what they see as the American identity, and I think that’s problematic.”
Climate change is also a big issue for young Republicans, just as it is for young Democrats. They don’t necessarily support proposals like the Green New Deal. But they do want the government to take urgent action, and the resistance at the top of their party has been alienating.
Blair Egan, 22, said she had argued over climate change with older Republicans, including her father, who she said “isn’t thinking about what the world’s going to look like 50 years down the line because it honestly doesn’t impact him.”
Ms. Egan, a graduate student at the University of Illinois Springfield, also wants the government to address the student debt crisis and the cost of higher education, even if she doesn’t support the sweeping loan forgiveness some Democrats have proposed. She recently graduated from Ohio University with $30,000 in debt despite academic scholarships, and was able to enroll in a master’s program only because of a tuition waiver.
Both she and Ms. Castro are loath to vote for Mr. Trump — who Ms. Egan argued used conservative ideas “as a smoke screen for a message and platform that’s based in anxiety, fear, suspicion and conspiracy” — but are deeply frustrated that their choice is him or a Democrat with whom they disagree on important policies.
Ms. Castro said that she would never vote for a Democrat who supported gun control — her one nonnegotiable issue — but that she wouldn’t vote for Mr. Trump either. She said she wished Representative Justin Amash, the Michigan libertarian who left the Republican Party last year, would run third-party. More likely, she will cast a write-in vote.
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