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More than half of young adults between 18 and 29 believe US democracy is in trouble or failing: poll


A new poll has found that a majority of young Americans have lost faith in democracy.

The survey from Harvard found that a combined 52 percent of young Americans between 18 and 29 believe U.S democracy is ‘in trouble’ if not just ‘failing,’ at 39 percent and 14%, respectively. 

Meanwhile, 27 percent found that the government was ‘somewhat functioning’ and only 7 percent viewed the America as a ‘healthy democracy.’ Thirteen percent said they ‘didn’t know.’

The numbers come from the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School, who polled 2,109 Americans between the ages of 18 and 29.  

The study found that young Democrats were also divided on the topic, with 44 percent believing democracy is currently healthy or somewhat functioning while 45 percent believed it was in trouble or failed. 

Seventy percent of young Republicans were far more pessimistic about the state of the nation, with 47 believing democracy was in trouble and 23 percent believing it has failed. 

The study found that a majority of independent and unaffiliated young Americans, 51, percent, also said we are in trouble or failed.

Young American’s lack of faith extended to President Joe Biden- with only 46 percent saying they approved of the president, compared to 59 percent last year.

Young American’s lack of faith extended to President Joe Biden – with only 46 percent saying they approved of the president, compared to 59 percent last year

A poll from the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School found that 52% of young Americans believe that US democracy is 'in trouble' if not just 'failing'

A poll from the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School found that 52% of young Americans believe that US democracy is ‘in trouble’ if not just ‘failing’

Young American's lack of faith extended to President Joe Biden - with only 46 percent saying they approved of the president, compared to 59 percent last year

Young American’s lack of faith extended to President Joe Biden – with only 46 percent saying they approved of the president, compared to 59 percent last year

‘After turning out in record numbers in 2020, young Americans are sounding the alarm. When they look at the America they will soon inherit, they see a democracy and climate in peril — and Washington as more interested in confrontation than compromise,’ IOP Polling Director John Della Volpe said. 

‘Despite this, they seem as determined as ever to fight for the change they seek.’  

58 percent of respondents said strengthening the economy was the most the key to successful presidency, while 45 percent believed uniting the county was most important and 42 percent believed it was improving healthcare.

58 percent of respondents said strengthening the economy was the most the key to successful presidency, while 45 percent believed uniting the county was most important

58 percent of respondents said strengthening the economy was the most the key to successful presidency, while 45 percent believed uniting the county was most important

Most young Americans said they don't believe a civil war will break out in their lifetime, with only 35 percent saying that is a possibility

Most young Americans said they don’t believe a civil war will break out in their lifetime, with only 35 percent saying that is a possibility

Although the majority had a sour outlook on the future of the country, most young Americans said they don’t believe a civil war will break out in their lifetime, with only 35 percent saying that is a possibility.  

The study found that despite the divided political environment, by a margin of 2-to-1, most young adults said they valued political compromise over confrontation, preferring ‘Elected officials meet in the middle –– at the expense of my preferred policy priorities.’

IOP Director Mark Gearan said that many in Washington could learn from that mentality. 

‘Our political leaders on both sides of the aisle would benefit tremendously from listening to the concerns that our students and young voters have raised about the challenges facing our democracy and their genuine desire for our parties to find common ground on solutions,’ he said.    

The study also found that 56 percent of young Americans expect climate change to impact their future decisions and 45 percent said they already see the local effects from climate change. 

The Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School polled 2,109 Americans between the ages of 18 and 29. Pictured: stock image of students

The Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School polled 2,109 Americans between the ages of 18 and 29. Pictured: stock image of students

Young Americans also reported that their mental health was in tough shape, with 51 percent of young adults saying they felt down, depressed and hopeless and 25 percent reporting thoughts of self-harm several times in the last two weeks.

Additionally the poll found that the COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected young Americans.  

Half of the respondents said they’re a different person because of COVID-19, while 51 percent said the pandemic has negatively impacted them. 

The negative effect from the nearly two year-long pandemic comes as the Omicron variant has spread to a variety of countries across the globe after emerging last month.  

Public health experts are still assessing the risks of Omicron, which has several troubling mutations that suggest it could spread quickly and potentially evade immunity from vaccines or prior infections.

Despite the strain being spotted in 38 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said no one has died with the new super mutant.

The Omicron variant was discovered by South African health officials last week, and while not much is known about it yet, it is was recently found to be 2.4 times more infectious than previous variants.

Due to its high number of mutations, it’s also believed to be vaccine evasive, though cases have mostly been very mild.



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