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politics

Harvard Poll of Young Voters Shows Democratic Energy for Midterms

  • Young Americans place more trust in Google than Facebook
  • Only about a quarter approve of the job Trump is doing

More young voters say they’ll definitely vote in November than have in the last two midterm elections and they increasingly would rather have Democrats than Republicans in control of Congress, a poll released Tuesday by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics shows.

The survey of adults ages 18 to 29 also reveals younger Americans have greater trust in Amazon and Google than Facebook and Twitter. Those findings come as Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify at the Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday to answer questions about data privacy, fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech.

More than a third of young Americans eligible to cast ballots in November -- 37 percent -- say they’ll “definitely be voting” in the elections seven months from now that will decide control of the House of Representatives and the Senate. That’s higher than the poll recorded at about the same point in 2010 and 2014, the two most recent midterm elections, when 31 percent and 23 percent answered that way.

“This generation of young Americans is as engaged as we have ever seen them in a midterm election cycle," said John Della Volpe, the institute’s polling director.

But expectations of a great surge in voting by America’s youth have been dashed in the past. Turnout in presidential election years is always higher and even former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama -- two candidates who had a strong appeal to young voters -- were only able to draw just more than half of this age group to vote in their first elections. In years when the White House is in play, it’s typical for 7 in 10 senior citizens to vote.

Young Democrats

Young, self-identified Democrats are driving almost all of the increased enthusiasm, the survey found, with 51 percent saying they’ll “definitely” vote. That’s 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, midway through Obama’s second term, 28 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of Republicans indicated that they would “definitely” be voting, while 35 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of Republicans held a similar interest in voting in the spring of 2010. In that election, Republicans took control of the House from the Democrats.

Preference for Democratic control of Congress has grown since the institute’s young voter poll last November, with 69 percent supporting Democrats and 28 percent Republicans. That 41-point gap is up from 32 points in the last survey.

Congressional Balance

The November election will determine whether Trump will be able to advance his agenda during the last two years of his first term. Recent special elections that reaped Democrats an Alabama Senate seat and a House seat in Pennsylvania along with turnout in primaries hint at a building anti-GOP wave.

Among the 18-29 age group, 25 percent approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 72 percent disapprove. By comparison, Trump’s overall approval rating among all adults in Gallup’s most recent poll was 41 percent.

Almost half -- 45 percent -- say they trust Amazon all or most of the time, while 44 percent say that of Google. Just 27 percent have that level of trust in Twitter, while 26 percent do for Facebook.

The survey of 2,631 Americans ages 18 to 29 was taken March 8-25. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points on the full sample.

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