Democratic control of Congress preferred 69%-28%, majority of young Democrats “definitely voting” in midterm elections, Harvard youth poll finds

Trump’s approval remains at 25%, Facebook, Twitter and Uber among the least trusted organizations measured

 CAMBRIDGE, MA – A new national poll of America’s 18- to 29-year-olds by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the Kennedy School of Government, finds a marked increase in the number of young Americans who indicate that they will “definitely be voting” in the upcoming midterm Congressional elections.  Overall, 37 percent of Americans under 30 indicates that they will “definitely be voting,” compared to 23 percent who said the same in 2014, and 31 percent in 2010, the year of the last “wave” election.

Young Democrats are driving nearly all of the increase in enthusiasm; a majority (51%) report that they will “definitely” vote in November, which represents a 9-percentage point increase since November 2017 and is significantly larger than the 36 percent of Republicans who say the same.  At this point in the 2014 election cycle, 28 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of Republicans indicated that they would “definitely” be voting.  In the Spring of 2010, 35 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of Republicans held a similar interest in voting.

Preference for Democratic control of Congress has grown between now and the time of the last IOP poll.  In Fall 2017, there was a 32-point partisan gap among the most likely young voters, 65 percent preferring Democrats control Congress, with 33 percent favoring Republicans.  Today, the gap has increased to 41 points, 69 percent supporting Democrats and 28 percent Republicans.

“Millennials and post-Millennials are on the verge of transforming the culture of politics today and setting the tone for the future,” said John Della Volpe, Polling Director at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics.  “This generation of young Americans is as engaged as we have ever seen them in a midterm election cycle.  The concern they 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.”

This poll of N=2,631 18- to 29- year-olds, which was organized with undergraduate students from the Harvard Public Opinion Project, was conducted using GfK’s probability-based online sampling methodology between March 8 and March 25, 2018.  The margin of error for the poll is +/- 2.54 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Trump approval remains at 25% overall, 34% on the economy.

Approval of President Trump remains the same as it was in our last poll, 25 percent approve of his performance, 72 percent disapprove.  One year ago, his approval was 32 percent.  President Trump's highest marks come on his handling of the economy, where approximately one-third (34%) approve of his job (-3 since Fall 2017), ISIS (31% today, -1 since Fall 2017) and tax reform (31% today, +2 since Fall 2017).  His lowest marks come on his handling of race relations (21% approve today, -1 since last Fall) and gun violence (24% approve, -6 since last Fall).
President Trump’s approval ratings on both North Korea and health care are 27 percent and on climate change it is 22 percent.  Approval of Congressional Democrats is 41 percent, (-1 Since Fall 2017) and Congressional Republicans is 24 percent (+1 since Fall 2017).

Amazon, Google considerably more trusted than Uber, Twitter, Facebook.

Weeks before the Cambridge Analytica story broke about the misuse of Facebook data, Harvard Public Opinion Project students were interested in young Americans views of technology companies engaged in the public realm.  Using the same framework that we apply to public institutions and agencies, we find that Amazon and Google are held in relatively high esteem, especially when compared to Uber, Twitter, and Facebook.  Overall, 45 percent of 18- to 29- year olds indicated that they trust Amazon, and 44 percent reported that they trust Google, “all” or “most of the time.”  Fourteen percent (14%) indicated that they never trust Amazon, and 15 percent said the same about Google.


Approximately half as many young Americans indicate that they trust (all or most of the time) Uber, Twitter, and Facebook when compared to Amazon and Google, and nearly a quarter of the population (between 22% and 24%) never trust them.


College and university administrations top the list of most trusted institutions in survey.

Despite media coverage that might suggest otherwise, college students have largely positive views of their college and university administrations, and few partisan differences emerge.  Overall, 61 percent of college students report trusting their administration all or most of the time, which places colleges and universities ahead of the U.S. military (51% trust all or most of the rime, -1 since Spring 2017), the Department of Justice (45%), the Supreme Court (43%, -3) and the FBI (42%), among public institutions.

Similar to last year’s results, Congress (17% trust all or most of the time, -3 since Spring 2017), the media (16%, even since Spring 2017), and Wall Street (-12, even since Spring 2017) are the least trusted institutions that were measured.