Harvard Poll: Millennials’ Trust in Government Sinks To All-Time Lows

by Michael Cipriano - American University on April 30, 2014

A majority of Millennials do not have trust in the president, the military, and the Supreme Court, with faith in these U.S. institutions reaching the lowest levels in recent history, according to the results of a Harvard University Institute of Politics poll released Tuesday.

“Compared to one year ago, the level of trust that young Americans between 18- and 29- years old have in most American institutions tested in our survey has dissipated compared even to last year’s historically low numbers,” the findings state.

Over the last year, trust in the president has dropped from 39 percent to 32 percent, faith in the U.S. military has declined from 54 percent to 47 percent – the first time below a majority – and confidence in the Supreme Court sank from 40 to 36 percent, the poll finds.   HarvardInsideGraph

“There is more cynicism toward the process than ever before, which is dangerous for democracy,” Institute of Politics Director Trey Grayson said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.

What’s more, less than one quarter – 23 percent – of Millennials say they will “definitely be voting” in the 2014 congressional midterm elections. The number marks a drop of 11 percentage points among voters from 18- to 29-years-old when the last poll was released five months ago.

While President Barack Obama’s approval rating among Millennials increased from a previous low of 41 percent to 47 percent, he could be hurt by the low expected participation among voters, who are often labeled as the key demographic that surged him to election in 2008 and re-election in 2012.

“The growing lack of trust in the president comes from Democrats,” the poll notes, pointing out that last year 64 percent of young Democrats trusted the president to do the right thing all or most of the time, while today it’s down to 53 percent.

The military’s public image has taken a nose dive among all parties, the results state.

The survey also found that there appears to be more enthusiasm for the midterm elections among conservative Millennial voters than among liberal Millennial voters.

More than two-in-five, 44 percent, who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 said they are “definitely voting” come November, while only 35 percent of Obama voters say the same.

The poll also questioned participants about income inequality. While 64 percent of Millennials believe that the gap between “the rich and everyone else in America” is greater today than it was from when they were born, about 52 percent consider the gap a major problem.

The parties, however, are split on the root cause of the gap.

Republicans tend to feel the gap is more the “result of certain people working hard and making smart choices,” while Democrats often believe the gap is more the “result of factors outside one’s control,” the survey found.

The survey was completed with 3,058 interviews from March 22 to April 4. Forty-eight percent were male and 52 percent were female. Fifty-nine percent were white, 19 percent were Hispanic, 13 percent were black and seven percent were of another race.

A detailed report on the poll’s findings is available online.

College Fix contributor Michael Cipriano is a student at American University.

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IMAGE – Main, Cole Young, Flickr – Inside, Harvard

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