Exclusive - John Della Volpe Extended Interview

October 26, 2016 - John Della Volpe & Phil Collins 10/26/2016 Views: 17,705

Harvard pollster John Della Volpe describes how young people feel about America's future and breaks down how millennials plan to vote in the 2016 election. (8:01)

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Please welcome John Della Volpe!

-(applause and cheering)-Thank you.

Thank you so much. Thank you.


you are an expert in pollingmillennials. That is...

Only let me focuson 18 to 29-year-olds.

-Nothing, nothing...-That is all you have to do?

That's all I haveto focus on, yeah.

Right, which seemslike it's fun,

and at the same time, erratic.


It keeps me in touch,it keeps me on my toes.

You know, we started telephonepolling this generation

15 or 16 years ago

-when young people actually hadland line telephones. -Yes.

You can't do that anymore, so,it certainly helps us

think about public opinion ina very modern way, for sure.

All right, well, let's gointo one of the first surveys

that you conducted,which is really interesting.

In a survey,you asked 18 to 29-year-olds,

"Overall, would you sayyou are more hopeful

or more fearful about the futureof America?"

All right? And now, 51% of themsaid that they were fearful.

20% of them saidthat they were hopeful.

And then you asked them why,

and here are a fewof the answers.

Someone said, that, um,this country...


-This is country is... feared?Feared? -(laughter)

-Different "F" word.-Is that what that is?

-Different one. -Oh, (bleep).That's what that is.

All right, cool. Someone said,"Because it seems like

"everything is going to crapfor my generation.

"Crappy jobs... and ourpoliticians care more

about themselves than doing theright thing for all Americans."

This is whatactual millennials are saying.

Now, for peoplewho don't understand the basics

of polling, who are thesepeople, where do you find them,

-and how do you get theseanswers? -Well, a couple things.

We're talkingabout millennials--

the largest generation, Trevor,in the history of America.

The largest generationin the history of the world.

-Your generation.-Yes.

So, there are more of you thanthere are of anybody else.

-Yes, I've noticed. -Okay,it's incredibly important...

Right? It's incredibly important

that we understandhow they think about America.

-Uh-huh. -So we conduct2,150 interviews

in English and Spanishacross America,

representative sample,and this is what we're seeing.

A majority more,members of every single group

have more fear than hope.

Now, when you talk to them,and you say,

"Why do you have more fear?Why do you have more hope?,"

what is the biggest thingthat sways them?

Or what is the thingthey're looking to

that will change the waythey think?

I think a kind of restorationof the American dream.

So many young peoplewere brought up to believe

that if they worked hard,if they played by the rules,

-there was boundlessopportunity. -Yeah.

And for too many young people,that's just not the case.

We know. The system is riggedin their eyes,

and for good reason, frankly.

Well, let's talkabout the system being rigged.

Donald Trump has obviouslybrought that to the fore.

And there's beenmany conversations

about what "rigged" means.

I mean, when Bernie Sanderswas running,

he was talkingabout a different thing.

He was saying, that dream seemsmore and more unattainable.

-Right. -Right?It's harder to get there.

But Donald Trump is sayingit is being manipulated,

it is being rigged,and you, as pollsters,

are part of the problem.

-(laughing) -You guys arerigging the election.

First question is, why?

-(laughter)-Second question is, how?


It's... This is, I think,the most dang...

one of the most dangerouswhite collar jobs in America--

being a pollster. It's tough.

I don't know if I could riga poll even if I wanted to.

But polling hasa very, very important role,

I think, in our democracy to,you know, to give voice to...

to give voice to individuals.

To understand thatthere is real fear in America,

and for our elected officialsto understand that,

and try to solve for that.

Now... But now, when you say...

-So you say,you can't rig a poll. -Well...

-Why-why is it hard...?-(laughter)

Okay, so you can. So you can.

But now let me ask you this.Why...?

Let me ask you this, then,honestly.

Why would you rig a poll, andthen, why don't you rig polls?

There would be no reasonfor a professional pollster

to ever rig a poll.

We get paid based on the numberof polls that we take.

-If we conduct a pollthat's bad... -Yeah.

...that's not reflectiveof the electorate,

we don't get called back.

So there is no incentivein any way, shape or form

-for professional pollstersto... -So you're essentially

rewarded for getting it right?

-Ab... Can you imagine that?Yes. Yes. Right? -(laughter)

That is a new thing.Let's move on.

There's another one.Um, you asked

likely voters, "If the electionfor president were held today,

whom would you vote for?"

Right? And, uh, that's whatyou got from millennials.

Hillary Clinton-- 49%,Donald Trump-- 21%,

Gary Johnson-- 14%,Stein-- five percent,

and then, undecided-- 11%.

Now, that number is changingover time

with Gary Johnson, specifically.

You said that number'sgoing down.

-It is. In fact,Gary Johnson has 14%. -Yeah.

But 37% of that 14% said

that it's likelythey will abandon him

and vote for someone elsein a couple of weeks.

So... likely.

95% of Clinton's vote--staying with Clinton.

95% or so of Trump's vote--staying with Trump.

But, uh, you know,Gary Johnson's vote--

not enthusiasticand likely to move.

I think most of those peoplearen't moving for Trump.

-They're moving for Hillary.-Let's talk about

some of those young people.

Let's talk aboutthe Trump voters.

I'm assuming that's nota monolith of Trump voters,

where it's not just, like,young guys or extreme people.

There are some women voterswho are young millennials

who are voting for Trump. Uh...

-There are.-And then,

there are obviously women voterswho are voting for Hillary.

What I've read up on what yousaid about the Hillary voters

is maybe more interesting to me,

because they're not votingfor her because she's a woman.

No. In fact, they probably...

She probably wasn'ttheir first choice.

Bernie Sanders,without question,

was the first choiceof this generation.

Hillary Clinton has hada pretty complicated status,

-right, with millennials...-Yeah.

...over the past eight yearsto be honest with you.

And it's just in the lastseveral weeks, I think,

that the ice has startedto melt away a little bit.

She started to, kind of really,

-kind of regain some posture...-Like the ice on her?

-Or like the ice in general?-The figurative ice generally.

Ah! Figurative ice, got it;just making sure, yeah.

Um, you know, but, um, I thinkshe kind of outperformed

a lot of young people'sexpectations during that debate.

And, uh, Gary Johnsonis a key figure in this,

because Donald Trumpjust hasn't resonated

in any way with young people.

-His favorable number is 17%.-So, so what happens when...

So, for instance,what does he poll with,

let's say, with white people,

what does Donald Trumppoll with?

-So, uh, with white people...-Young, white millennials.

Yeah. When I look at the-theDemocrat versus Republican,

or Hillary versus Trump,

Hillary's actually winningthat white vote by eight points.

-Okay. -Much better than Obamadid, actually, four years ago.

Okay. And then with, um,let's say Hispanic voters.

-Yeah. I think Hillary's up45 points with Hispanics. -Wow.

So, uh, again, um,getting to where Obama was,

but not quite there, yet.

Okay, and then with blackvoters, how is Trump doing?

-Uh, he's down byabout 85 points. -(laughter)

-Plus or minus.-Down, down by 85?

-Yeah. It's, uh,, it's uh...-So what does...

'Cause you've got undecided,as well,

so what does that leave him?

Let me do the math for you:It's 85% Clinton.


Zero percent Trump.


(applause, cheering)



2,150 interviews,13% of those interviews

with youngAfrican-American blacks,

not one single person saidthey were voting for Trump.

I mean, Mitt Romney did betterfour years ago.

That is the ultimate levelof-of whiteness,

-Mitt Romney getting blackpeople and then... -(laughter)

Wow. That is fascinating.

And I-I guess people need to getmore into it.

If we're lookingat the polls now...

If, as you said, thosepoliticians and those leaders

are looking at the polls,what is the one thing

you want them to take awayfrom these polls

that millennials have given youfeedback on?

I think, uh, let's focus on fearfor a second.

-Fear allows us, challenges us,to do one of two things. -Yeah.

Okay. You can withdraw, or youcan step up and engage, okay?

And despite the fact

the majority of young peopleare fearful,

they want to be empowered.

They are still looking for aleadership from the top down

to identify those folkswho want to help,

encourage them to participate,

empower them and engagewith them.

So they're not, you know,

they-they care deeplyabout their country.

They don't likeour politics today,

but they want to work togetherto make it better,

to move America forward.

Thank you very muchfor being here, man.

Really fascinating.I hope to see you again.

Thank you so much, John.

John Della Volpe, everyone.