65% of young Americans want Democratic control of Congress

December 6, 2017

Two-thirds of young Americans (67%) are more fearful than hopeful about America’s future, based on findings of a national poll released on December 5 by the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School.

Indeed, less than one year before the U.S. 2018 midterm elections, the poll of 2,037 likely young American voters (ages 18 through 29) found a preference for Democratic control of Congress by a margin of 2:1, or  65% to 33%.

The Fall 2017 poll also found that U.S. President Donald Trump’s approval ratings continue to decline amid heightened concern about the state of race relations in the country and increased support for stricter gun control laws by the electorate.

“American political institutions are at a tipping point,” said Polling Director John Della Volpe at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. “Millennials are now the largest generation in the electorate. This poll and the Virginia[gubernatorial] 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. The only question is whether this comes from inside or outside the traditional party structure.”

Among the other key take-aways are the following:

  • By a nearly 4:1 margin (54% to 14%), young Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, compared to the right direction. Over four in five Democrats (82%) voiced fear compared to 17% expressing hope; in contrast, 58% of Republicans expressed hope while 39% expressed fear.
  • Just one-quarter (25%) of respondents approve of the President’s job performance overall, which represents a 7-point decrease since the spring release. The President’s highest rating on any issue comes from his handling of the economy and his response to the hurricanes, with 34% approval on both. On tax reform, he gets 29% approval; healthcare, 26%; North Korea, 25%; climate change, 24%; and race relations, 22%.
  • Nearly four-fifths (79%) of young Americans concerned about the state of race relations today. Fully 68% of black Americans and 46%of Hispanics believe that their race is under attack “a lot,” while 15% of whites feel the same way. Indeed, nearly four in five (79%) register concern about the state of race relations in the country today— a five-point increase over the last year.
  • Sixty-five percent would prefer to see Democrats control Congress after the 2018 midterms. One-third (33%) prefer Republican control. Independent voters prefer Democratic control by over 30 points (66% to 32%). Across most measures, young Democrats are more engaged politically than they were at a comparable
  • Only about 20% of respondents believed that the Republican Party or President Trump cared about them; 34%.agreed that the Democratic Party cared about people like them.

Finally—and tellingly—more than two-thirds of respondents (67%) said that America’s greatest threats come from forces inside, not outside, our country. In response to an open-ended question about top threats, President Trump, “ourselves,” and racism were the top responses.

Research contact: chazy_dowaliby@hks.harvard.edu

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