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IOP Youth Poll Finds Pessimistic Views

Harvard Kennedy School
The Institute of Politics' fall youth poll found pessimistic views among millennials.
Young people in America are increasingly dissatisfied with President Donald Trump's administration and largely pessimistic about the future of the country, according to the fall 2017 edition of the Institute of Politics biannual youth poll.

The survey was organized by undergraduates from the Harvard Public Opinion Project and included survey results from over two thousand 18 to 29 year olds nationwide. Some of the key findings, which were released Tuesday, include data about young people’s hope for the future, opinions on President Donald Trump, political parties, and race.

Trump’s job approval rating fell down seven percentage points from the spring survey to 25 percent. Additionally, 67 percent of those surveyed said they were fearful of America’s future, while 31 percent said they felt hopeful about America’s future. Only 14 percent surveyed said that they believe America is generally headed in the right direction.

The survey also included questions about football players who kneel during the national anthem before games. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed approve of the decision to kneel during the anthem.

Of the many issues in the poll, opinions on the anthem were some of the most polarized. Eighty percent of Democrats approved, while 17 percent of Republicans approved of kneeling during the anthem.

Those surveyed also expressed mixed views about the performance of America’s political parties. While 65 percent of those surveyed preferred Democratic control of Congress, only 34 percent agreed that the Democratic party cared about people like them, and 21 percent said the same of the Republican party.

The survey also found that 79 percent of young people said they were concerned with the state of race relations today, while 68 percent of black Americans and 46 percent of Hispanics replied that they believed that “their race is under attack ‘a lot’ in America.” Fifteen percent of white respondents said they feel the same way.

John Della Volpe, director of polling at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, said he believes that the dissatisfaction expressed in the survey threatens the current political status quo.

“The fear that is present in this poll could fuel the upending of the Washington establishment as we know it,” Della Volpe said.

Della Volpe noted that in the 2018 midterm elections, millennials have the potential to outnumber the baby boomers and become the largest voting generation, if they make it to the polls.

“Millennials are now the largest generation in the electorate. This poll and the Virginia election show that they are becoming more motivated—and I believe the fear that exists today about our future will soon be turned into the fuel that will reform our government,” Della Volpe said.

“The only question is whether this comes from inside or outside the traditional party structure,” he added.

Della Volpe was optimistic that young people will turn out to vote in higher numbers in the midterm elections.

“There’s evidence here that in the last year—in nearly every way you can measure it—that there’s been a greater motivation [in young people] around voting,” Della Volpe said.

—Staff writer Idil Tuysuzoglu can be reached at idil.tuysuzoglu@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Lucas Ward can be reached at lucas.ward@thecrimson.com. Follow him on twitter at @LucaspfWard.

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