Young Americans signal record turnout for midterm elections, reject Trump and the GOP: Poll

  • A survey from Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics shows a more politically mobilized crop of young Americans leaning away from Trump and the GOP in the midterms in near-equal proportions.
  • At the same time, the 18-to-29-year-old respondents appear to exhibit more support for some progressive policies.
  • Forty percent of them said they will definitely vote in the upcoming elections, according to the study.

The newest generation of voters is more energized to vote in the midterm elections than it has been in previous cycles — but not for President Donald Trump or the Republican Party, a recent poll found.

The survey, released Monday by Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics, shows a more politically mobilized crop of young Americans leaning away from Trump and the GOP in the midterms in near-equal proportions, even as the majority party's core issues — immigration, jobs and the economy — rank among their highest concerns.

At the same time, the 18-to-29-year-old respondents are more aligned with some progressive policies, though they have yet to fully embrace the label of "Democratic Socialist" applied to politicians such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or New York Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Critics of the president were quick to draw dire implications from the poll. Bill Kristol, who founded the conservative political magazine The Weekly Standard and is often lambasted as a "Never Trumper" by the president's allies, said the GOP needs to "dump Trump" if it wants a future.

Forty percent of Americans under the age of 30 said they will definitely vote in the upcoming elections, according to the study, which gathered responses from more than 2,000 people. That response is higher than polls in the past two midterm elections, The Washington Post reported.

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Nearly twice as many respondents identified with the Democratic Party over the GOP — 41 percent to 21 percent, while 35 percent said they were unaffiliated or independents.

That gap widened significantly when they were asked about Trump's job as president: 68 percent of overall respondents said they disapprove of Trump's performance after nearly two years in office, compared with just 26 percent who do approve. It grew wider still among likely voters, with 72 percent of that group disapproving of Trump's job.

While Trump's often polarizing rhetoric makes a stark divide in approval less than surprising, the survey shows nearly the same lopsided ratings for congressional Republicans. Twenty-five percent of respondents approved of the GOP's job performance in Congress, while 68 percent disapprove. The gap among likely voters grew to 22 percent who approve and 75 percent who disapprove — a 53 percentage-point gap.

Democrats in Congress were given a more even split, though a 53 percent majority still disapprove of their performance.

Young Americans also appear to look at the two major parties as a proxy for their broader feelings about the direction in which the country is headed. Nearly three in five respondents said they are more fearful than hopeful about the future of the U.S., and a 43 percent plurality said they would have more fear if the GOP held onto its majority in the House after the midterms. In contrast, 42 percent of those polled said they would have more hope if Democrats clinched a House majority.

Trump has ratcheted up his attacks on Democrats in the weeks leading up to the November congressional elections. He has claimed that Democrats want to establish a socialist dystopia in America that would reshape it in the image of Venezuela. The president has also placed special attention on migrants traveling to the U.S. in hopes of seeking asylum, claiming without providing evidence that "unknown Middle Easterners" and criminals are embedded within the caravans, and pledging to send thousands of active duty troops to the southern border.

The strategy, along with his regular boasts about the strong performance of the U.S. economy under his administration, does appear to line up with the main concerns of those polled in the Harvard survey. Respondents say "Immigration/Refugee Issues" and "Jobs and Economy" are the two top national issues of concern.

But the survey also shows 39 percent of them supporting democratic socialism — just 4 percentage points less than capitalism. The majority also showed support for several issues linked to the democratic socialist agenda, including a so-called federal jobs guarantee that would ensure employment with a wage of at least $15 an hour for every American. Fifty-five percent also approve of a single-payer health-care system, which Trump recently attacked in an op-ed for USA Today.

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