Nearly Two-Thirds of Young Americans Fearful About the Future of Democracy in America, Harvard youth poll finds


Second release of data from IOP's spring poll shows politicians, money in politics, the media, political correctness, structural racism and access to higher education contributing factors

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 that nearly two-thirds (64%) of young Americans have more fear than hope about the future of democracy in America.  

For the first time, the Harvard Public Opinion Project asked a series of questions about how responsible 18- to 29-year-olds believed different groups were for the existing problems in American politics and society today.  Politicians were viewed as very or somewhat responsible by at least 7-in-10 young Americans, regardless of political affiliation.   Money in politics and the media were mentioned by at least 6-in-10 Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

Young Democrats under 30 blamed politicians (77% responsible), Donald Trump (77% responsible), money in politics (75% responsible), structural racism (69% responsible) and lack of access to higher education (66% responsible) as the most significant factors responsible for the state of politics and society today. 

The top five factors Republicans believe are responsible are: the media (72%), politicians (70% responsible), political correctness (64% responsible), money in politics (63% responsible), with other Americans (45%), a distant fifth.  

"Young Americans are deeply concerned and fearful about our country’s future," said IOP Polling Director John Della Volpe.  "There’s a healthy debate raging on the reasons why – politicians, media, big money, political correctness, and structural barriers like racism and access to education are all contributing factors in the eyes of millennials and post-millennials. Yet, there is no debate that young people are working hard to bridge these divides, finding pragmatic solutions and instilling hope for a stronger democracy." 

Click here to view toplines.

Click here to see the poll results on our website.

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. 

Throughout the month of April, we will be releasing additional details and poll results on topics including: gun control, the 2nd Amendment, and the NRA; the border wall, DACA, and immigration policy; sexual harassment, assault, and the #MeToo movement; use of and interest in joining the U.S. military; the opioid crisis; and public service and community service. All results can be found at