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A majority of young Americans are fearful for the future


A majority of young Americans are fearful for the future

WATCH | The findings of the latest Harvard Institute of Politics poll on how young Americans feel about the future, politics, and race.

Young Americans are fearful about the future of America according to a Harvard Institute of Politics poll released today.

The poll found that 51 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 are more fearful than hopeful about the future.

"Young whites are the most fearful about the future of America. I believe that a key driver of this pessimism about the future is connected to the lack attainability of the American Dream," said  John Della Volpe, the Institute of Politics Polling Director.

Della Volpe added that, "Only 32 percent of white women as an example believe that they will be better off financially than their parents."

Coincidently, those polled are more open to the government collecting data to aid national security. When compared to prior results, Harvard found Millennials are more supportive of the government monitoring social network activity and browsing email and texts than they were in 2013-- though 51 percent are against the government collecting this information.

Harvard privacy 2013 v 2016.jpg
Privacy 2013 v 2016. Source: Harvard Institute of Politics

"There has been some softening in the position that social networking activity and web activity is something that is okay for the government to collect in order to aid national security," said Della Volpe. 

Harvard under attack.jpg
Feeling under attack. Source: Harvard Institute of Politics

Seventy-eight percent are concerned about race relations and aren't optimistic that either presidential candidate will improve race relations. Young minorities in particular feel people of their background are under attack.

Among the most fearful... we see that by a margin of 2 to 1 they more likely to vote... more likely to follow the news and have debates.
Della Volpe

Fearful but engaged

While young Americans are fearful for the future, even the most fearful are not paralyzed by it.

How they'll vote

The poll does not project young Americans to turn out like they did in 2008, a high point in Millennial voting, when 51 percent of young people voted. The poll found that 49 percent of voters 18-29 plan on voting this year.

Out of those that plan to vote, 49 percent plan on voting for Hillary Clinton, 21 percent plan on voting for Donald Trump and 14 percent plan on voting for Gary Johnson. 

However, 37 percent of young Johnson voters say it's likely that they change their mind and vote for a different candidate. That's much higher than the 6 percent and 5 percent of respondents who say they are likely to change their vote from Clinton and Trump respectively.

Compared to how President Obama polled in 2012, Clinton is outperforming him across the board, even winning white voters 18-29, a category Mitt Romney won. She is doing nine points better with 18-24 year olds, and 10 points better with non-college educated young voters. 

2012 to 2016 comparison.jpg
2012 to 2016 comparison. Source: Harvard Institute of Politics

Clinton underperforms Obama when it comes to support from Democrats, Independents, and Hispanics. Trump underperforms Romney with support from Republicans in addition to Whites. 

Other interesting findings

The poll found that 46 percent think Black Lives Matter has harmed race relations. Only 16 percent think it has helped. Obama gets a 57 percent approval rating while Democrats and Republicans in Congress get 43 percent and 22 percent respectively. More trust Clinton with the economy, terrorism, immigration, and inequality. Thirty-nine percent of respondents are affiliated with Democrats,followed by 38 percent who are Independents. Only 21 percent are Republicans.

This is the 31st Harvard Youth poll. 

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