New America Media &
Bendixen Youth Poll Results out
By Ras H. Siddiqui
to R: Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, Sergio Bendixen, Sandy
Close and Ricardo Vazquez
results of the first ever cell phone survey of young people
in California were revealed during a special briefing at the
State Capitol Building in Sacramento on Wednesday, April 25
by Sergio Bendixen of Bendixen & Associates who presented
his findings before select members of the media and a panel
of young people. Also on hand to lend their support were Assemblywomen
Fiona Ma of the 12th District and Ricardo Vazquez from the
University of California Office of the President.
Sandy Close, Executive Director of New America Media, opened
the session describing Bendixen as a most valued partner.
She said that references to public opinion sometimes excluded
the public and that language and cultural barriers had to
be overcome. This particular poll offered its own challenges.
“Young people don’t answer land lines,”
said Sandy .
Ricardo Vazquez, Coordinator Spanish Language Media Services
Strategic Communications UC Office of the President, spoke
next. “In terms of the poll, I want to say that we are
humbled,” he said (the University of California figured
prominently as highly desirable to get an education in this
survey of young people). He said that the concerns of young
people aligned with those of the University of California
and hoped that we find the poll results as fascinating as
his institution did.
Panelists take part in the proceedings
Bendixen next gave a brief introduction to the methods employed
to conduct this poll. He said that a survey for the ethnic
media had its own challenges, and this one of young people
in California posed a peculiar set of problems. He informed
that most of the people were interviewed in English as 80%
of these kids were born in California and only 13% were born
in another country. Offering more details he said that the
16 to 22 year age range consisted mostly of kids who were
attending some type of school. He added that 8% of these young
people had been to jail or some kind of juvenile detention
facility (13% of the males and 2% of the females). He proceeded
to share the major findings of the poll, aptly described as
“California Dreamers: A public opinion portrait of the
most diverse generation the nation has known.” The results
were certainly surprising for this poll conducted exclusively
via cellular phones.
“What do you consider the most pressing issue facing
your generation in the world today?” 24% said family
breakdown, 22% violence in neighborhoods and communities.
This was followed with concerns about poverty at 17%, Global
warming at 14% and anti-immigrant-sentiment at 7%. War and
violence throughout the world came in at a distant sixth at
just 3%, Government issues at 2% and drugs, environmental
issues in general, economic issues and racism at about 1%
each. In other words, immediate family and community is the
prime concern of the young people today.
“In the next 10 years, how do you think your life will
be?” 78% said that it would be better than it is now
and only 1% said that they expected it to be worse (certainly
pointing to optimism amongst the majority polled).
“What is your current educational goal?” 9% said
that they wanted to graduate from High School, 10% from at
least a two-year college, 36% from a four-year university,
24% wanted to get a Master’s degree and 8% wanted to
pursue a doctorate. Sixty-eight per cent of the young people
polled want to get a university education. And to the question:
“Which statement describes your view of the future?
If I work hard I can achieve my goals” received a 96%
affirmative and only 4% said that things beyond their control
would prevent them from achieving those goals. This certainly
is an optimistic generation since 73% also felt that they
would have a higher standard of living than their parents.
The youth also identified the main cause of stress amongst
young people today:33% described it as school, 22% said that
it was money, 12% personal relationships, 11% peer pressure,
6% attributed it to parents and 5% to drugs and alcohol. Loneliness
and work shared 2% and the “Other” category 7%.
Attendees at the California State Capitol
got another thumbs up response. 73% of the California youth
surveyed considered religion as either very important or somewhat
important to their lives. Only 17% thought that it was not
too important and jut 10% thought that it was not important
On the issue of illegal immigrants in California, 82% responded
that they should be given a chance to earn legal status and
citizenship and only 13% wanted them to be arrested and deported.
On the issue of marriage and the question “Would you
marry or enter into a life partnership with someone of a different
race?” a huge majority of 87% said yes, 10% said no
and 3% did not know.
War in Iraq and Military Service found just 20% in favor while
13% did not know much about the issue. Volunteering for military
service remained somewhat popular amongst young males.
“Have you ever considered attending the University of
California or US system?” received a huge 76% “Yes”
and a 23% “No”. Amongst ethnic groups 78% White
Anglo, 69% African American, 69% Latino and a whopping 88%
of Asians gave a “Yes” answer on their desire
to attend the University of California.
The poll had a number of other aspects, not all of which can
be mentioned here, but it certainly reflected a positive outlook
amongst our young people here in California and how they envision
Assemblywoman Fiona Ma from California ’s 12th district
echoed those sentiments in her speech following the release
of the poll results. “It’s nice to see that they
(our youth) believe in the American Dream,” she remarked.
“I hope that young people engage politically, vote and
make their presence felt,” she added. She herself was
a product of the public school system and a lot more was needed
to be done for our teachers. On academic diversity amongst
kids she added that not all of them would get straight A’s
and that we need to have other options for those kids too.
She also stressed the need to educate young people on how
the credit system works and how they can best manage their
The briefing was opened up for questions as panelists Nell
Bernstein from the Pacific News Service along with Adrian
Ramirez, Raj Jayadev and Gene Melesaine from the Silicon Valley
De-Bug magazine offered their observations on the poll results.
The focus was on the optimism shown here in the poll amidst
tough times for many in America. It remains to be seen if
this is a misplaced or a realistic assessment of the times
that we live in, but it should give parents confidence and
pleasure in getting to know that young “California Dreamers”
are giving out positive vibes about their future.