This morning the Harvard Public Opinion Project released its 25th poll of young Americans attitudes towards politics and public service. Surveying 3,058 young Americans ages 18-29, this year's poll questions focused on inequality, online activity, political partisanship, and views of marijuana use. Here are the five most important findings from 160 questions and 488 pages of crosstabs.
Young Americans Continue To Lose Trust In Government
For the first time, there is not a single government institution a majority of young Americans trust. Trust in the U.S. Military, the Supreme Court, and Congress have each fallen four percentage points from what were historic lows last fall. Trust in the President meanwhile fell nine percentage points due to a decline in trust from Democrats and Independents.
Low Turnout Expected In The Midterm Elections
Only 23 percent of young Americans definitely plan on voting in this fall's midterm election. This number is down 26 percentage points from the spring of 2012 and eight percentage points from the spring of 2010 when 31 percent of young Americans planned to vote. This presents troubling news for Democrats as more young Americans identify as Democrats. Republicans meanwhile are more likely to participate with 44 percent of Mitt Romney's 2012 supporters planning to vote compared with 35 percent of President Obama's 2012 supporters. Both Democrats and Republicans should emphasize why voting is important.
Obama Approval And Young Americans Optimism Up From Fall
Approval of President Obama increased six percentage points from the fall to 47 percent but remained below the President's 52 percent approval in the spring of 2013. The number of people who think things in the nation are generally headed in the right direction also rebounded seven percentage points to 21 percent but was still below last spring's 25 percent.
Inequality Is A Major Problem But A Divide Exists On Cause And Solution
We found 52 percent of young Americans believe that inequality is a major problem and 64 percent believe that the gap between "the rich and everyone else in America" is greater today than when they were born. There were deep divides in the cause with Democrats 15 percentage points more likely than Republicans to say that the gap in income is the result of factors outside ones control. Republicans were 18 percentage points more likely than Democrats to believe the gap is the result of certain people working hard and making smart choices. When presented with 6 different Democratic and Republican policy solutions not a single one received a majority of support.
Support For Preemptive Attacks Declines
Young American's foreign policy views changed with a nine percentage point drop in the number of young Americans who agree that it is "sometimes necessary to attack potentially hostile countries, rather than waiting until we are attacked to respond." In addition, by a margin of 3 to 1, young Americans believe the United States should let other counties and the United Nations take the lead in solving international crises.
Learn more about the Harvard Public Opinion Project, read the report, and explore the results on the Harvard Institute of Politics website.