New America Media & Bendixen Youth Poll Results out
By Ras H. Siddiqui


L to R: Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, Sergio Bendixen, Sandy Close and Ricardo Vazquez

The 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

Sergio 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

Religion 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 at all.
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 their future.
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 debt.
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.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.