Poor Access to Civic and Political Life for 60% of Rural Youth

Tufts University recently did some research on millennial voters and found that the there was stark difference in the opinions of the youth regarding civic institutions and politics. These differences were primarily based on gender, social class and race.

There is a critical dividing line separating the urban and rural youth. The exit polls on Election Day revealed that while 55% voters below the age of 30 years across the country voted for Hillary Clinton, 53% of the rural youth voted for Donald Trump.

So does geography have an influence over opinions and political involvement levels? Maybe not.

What is Rural?

Research suggests that nearly 14% of the youth, illegible for voting, resides in rural areas. This may not be a significantly large group but there is still a need to study the voting habits of this bloc of rural youth.

According to exit polls, “rural” is defined as a location on the periphery of a metro with a small population (i.e. less than 50,000 people). But rural identity isn’t just limited to geography. If you dig deeper into the subject of sociology, you’ll find that it is critical to also address issues of accessibility and power since they have a major influence on the youth. Another important factor to consider is the proximity of relationships. Even then, not all rural areas are identical and each of them faces their own set of challenges and has unique opportunities for development. 

Civic Desert

For the sake of convenience, the study classified the youth with no access to resources or access to only one resource as residing in ‘Civic Deserts’. A Civic Desert can be described as a place characterized by a lack of opportunities for political and civic learning.

The study suggests that youth residing in Civic Deserts is typically inexperienced in political and civic life and fairly disengaged from politics. They have few or no opinions regarding current affairs. Therefore they do not usually believe that civic participating such as voting could be of any benefit to the community.

The data from the study suggests that about 39% of the millennial (whites) living in Civic Deserts and 43% living in rural areas voted for Trump in comparison to the 17% youth in the urban areas. It might be wrong to make an assumption that these young voters live only in rural areas. A lot of his supporters resided in suburban and urban areas where there was poor accessibility to civic and political resources.

Leave a Comment