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College administrators are more trusted than the military: youth poll

More young Americans ‘definitely’ voting than in last ‘wave’ election

If young people are unable to trust the White House, the media and social apps, then who do they trust? Surprisingly, college administrations rank high on young Americans’ list of most-trusted institutions.

This is according to the latest quarterly survey of 18- to 29-year-olds from the Harvard Institute of Politics, which also found a growing intensity among young Democrats to vote in this fall’s midterm elections.

“We’re seeing a voter intensity among young people unmatched in recent times, which will only get hotter as the midterm election nears,” said John Della Volpe, the institute’s polling director, in a conference call Tuesday to share the poll results.

Among other findings, the poll suggests that young Americans place the most trust in those institutions they perceive as protecting them, from the military and police to their campus authorities.

Facebook less trusted than Amazon

The March 8-25 poll was still being conducted when the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, revealing that 87 million Americans had their personal Facebook data exposed, and that news seems to be reflected in young Americans’ views of the company.

Just 23 percent of young Americans expect Facebook to “do the right thing” either “all” or “most of the time,” just behind the 24 percent never trusting Uber. However, Amazon and Google are held in higher regard, with 44-45 percent of those polled saying they trust Amazon and Google all or most of the time.

MORE: Poll says young Dems, Republicans live in bubbles

Levels of trust have barely budged for the media (16 percent), Congress (17 percent) and Wall Street (12 percent) since the institute’s poll during the 2016 primaries.

Your college or university administration” drew the highest marks from young Americans: 61 percent said they trust these institutions, compared to 52 percent for their local police and 51 percent for the U.S. military. They trust the FBI (42 percent) and Justice Department (35 percent) more than the Department of Education (29 percent).

‘Enthusiasm’ jump comes from young Democrats

The results suggest that young Americans are paying attention to current events, with an increase in those saying they’ll vote this fall.

“Young Democrats are driving nearly all of the increase in enthusiasm” for the midterms, which will see higher vote totals than either 2014 or 2010, the last “wave” election, according to the institute’s summary of poll results.

Thirty-seven percent overall will “definitely be voting,” with a nine-point gap between young Democrats (51 percent) and young Republicans (36 percent). It’s the first midterm elections this decade where young Democrats say they’re more likely to vote than Republicans, according to the institute.

The poll “demonstrates that young people across the country are engaged more than ever, and the findings will have enormous implications for policymakers and those who care about student participation,” Institute Director Mark Gearen said on the conference call.

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Biggest success for Trump? Tax reform

In last fall’s poll, 65 percent of “the most likely young voters” wanted a Democratic-run Congress while 33 percent wanted a Republican-run Congress, according to the institute. That gap has widened even further in the latest poll: 69 percent to 28 percent.

With the rise of young voters focused on electing a Democratic Congress, “Millennials and post millennials are on the verge of transforming the culture of politics and setting the tone for the future,” said Della Volpe in a written statement on the poll results. “This generation of young Americans is as engaged as we have ever seen them in a midterm election cycle.”

The concern that young people “have voiced for many years about the direction of the country is being channeled into a movement that will extend to the midterms elections and beyond,” he continued.

Last year, President Trump’s approval rating with participants in the institute poll was 35 percent, and since then it has decreased to 25 percent. Showing that few young people are undecided, 72 percent of young Americans disapproving of his performance.

The president’s highest marks are in regard to the economy, with tax reform at 35 percent and ISIS at 31 percent. His lowest marks deal with his stance on gun violence (24 percent approval) and race relations (21 percent approval rating).

MORE: Socialism more unpopular than capitalism with millennials, says Harvard poll

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Diamond Braxton -- University of Houston

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