Only a plurality of American millennials think the American Dream is alive, barely nudging out those who think it is dead.
Only 49 percent of millennials think “the idea of the American Dream” is alive, and 48 percent think it is dead, according to a new poll from Harvard’s Institute of Politics.
Republican supporters, overall, are more inclined to believe the American dream is alive, with Cruz (69 percent), Bush (66 percent), Carson (65 percent), and Rubio supporters (59 percent) all believing at higher rates than Clinton (54 percent) and Sanders supporters (44 percent). Trump supporters, however, are more negative than all of them (39 percent).
The optimism — or pessimism — for the American dream, however, isn’t necessarily driven by politics. Only 20 percent of poll respondents considered themselves “politically engaged or politically active.” Political issues might shape mindsets, but it doesn’t appear that millennials flock to the voting booth to pursue or reclaim their idea of the American Dream.
Men (52 percent) are more positive than women (45 percent), as are college graduates (58 percent) and students (55 percent) than high-school graduates (42 percent).
Racially, Hispanics are the most optimistic (52 percent), beating white (49 percent) and black (44 percent) millennials.
The Trump and Sanders campaigns have been effective at constructing a narrative of an America in decline. For Trump supporters, it’s a country of weak leaders and a lagging economy, a place where America has lost its rightful position as a leader of the world. For Sanders supporters, economic inequality and degradation from the rich and corporations have hijacked the political process for narrow self-interest.
It’s no wonder, then, that their supporters see the American Dream as dead, even if their conception of the ideal America differs dramatically.
To combat that, Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz will have to present an alternative future that is better and brighter if they want to revive the dream.