What Is The GenForward Survey?

genforwardThe GenForward Survey is the first of its kind—a nationally representative survey of over 1750 young adults ages 18-30 conducted monthly that pays special attention to how race and ethnicity shape how respondents experience and think about the world.

The GenForward poll of young adults is a survey by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

It was conducted by NORC Feb. 16-March 6.

It is based on online and telephone interviews of 1,833 adults age 18-30 who are members of the GenForward panel, which was designed to be representative of the young adult population.

The survey includes interviews with 516 African-Americans, 504 Latinos, 277 Asian-Americans and 505 non-Hispanic whites, along with 31 young people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.

The survey was paid for by the Black Youth Project using grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

The original sample was drawn from two sources. Fifty-one percent of respondents are part of NORC’s AmeriSpeak panel, which was selected randomly from NORC’s National Frame based on address-based sampling and recruited by mail, email, telephone and face-to-face interviews. Forty-nine percent of respondents are part of a custom panel of young adults that uses an address-based sample from a registered voter database of the entire U.S and is recruited by mail and telephone.

NORC interviews participants over the phone if they don’t have internet access. With a probability basis and coverage of people who can’t access the internet, GenForward surveys are nationally representative.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.

As is done routinely in surveys, results were weighted, or adjusted, to ensure that responses within each group accurately reflect the group’s makeup by factors such as age, sex, region and education. Results for the full sample are weighted by race so that the overall results accurately reflect the full young adult population.

No more than one time in 20 should chance variations in the sample cause the results to vary by more than plus or minus 4 percentage points from the answers that would be obtained if all adults age 18-30 in the U.S. were polled. The margin of sampling error is higher for subgroups.

There are other sources of potential error in polls, including the wording and order of questions.

Many of the most pressing political issues in the U.S. today – public education, gun violence, mass incarceration, immigration, and even the right to vote – disproportionately affect African American and Latino youth. Despite the centrality of these young people to the politics and policies of the country, their voices, perspectives and policy preferences are largely absent from news articles, public policy debates and academic research.

Concerns about disparities in political voice and representation were somewhat quelled after the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, in which record numbers of young people, among them a historic number of black and Latino youth, voted to elect the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama. Commentators and party operatives predicted that the youth vote delivered in that election would become a major component of the voting block for years to come. Yet, as we approach the 2016 election, many young constituents are politically disengaged, and question if they will even vote.

The use of polls and surveys to ascertain public opinion is critical in today’s political discourse. While the focus on voter preferences between parties, candidates, and policies is vital, what is also important is knowledge and insights into the ways that increased polarization and shifts in political rhetoric have impacted young people. The best way to decipher these changes is through polls and surveys.

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