Millennials hold dim views of politics, economy, poll shows

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CAMBRIDGE – As Donald Trump increasingly dominated the Republican presidential field over the primary season, the gap widened between millennials who support Democratic control of the White House and those who prefer a Republican in charge, with more than 60 percent favoring Hillary Clinton to a quarter who back Trump, a poll released Monday shows.

Support for keeping the presidency in Democratic hands climbed to 61 percent from 55 percent a year ago among Americans 18 to 29, while those who favor a Republican White House fell to 33 percent from 40 percent a year earlier, the survey from Harvard University’s Institute of Politics shows. As Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have emerged as likely to face off in November, the net support in favor of the Democrat has nearly doubled to 28 percentage points among millennials in the survey from Spring 2015.

Perhaps surprisingly, most millennials reject both capitalism and socialism as political theories. A third say they back socialism, while just over two-fifths chose capitalism, the pollsters said. Socialism support tilts toward Democrats, youth, Clinton supporters, Latinos and Blacks, while those who back capitalism tend to be Republicans, male, white, college-educated and living in the South or West, the survey shows.

“Young Americans are sending a strong message,” said John Della Volpe, polling director at the Institute of Politics. “They care deeply about the future, but are concerned that the current state of our institutions and our politics are not sufficient to meet our nation’s challenges.”

Almost half of millennials say the American economy is on the wrong track, up from 39 percent who said that a year earlier, and 15 percent say it’s headed in the right direction, down from 23 percent a year ago. But 48 percent say today’s politics are “no longer able to meet the challenges” faced by the nation.

Looking at Trump and Clinton in terms of favorability, Trump has a staggering 74 percent negative rating, and even 57 percent of Republicans don’t like him. Clinton is viewed unfavorably by 57 percent, but that proportion drops to 30 percent among Democrats. Ted Cruz also fares poorly, at 52 percent unfavorable, but at least most Republicans like him, at 56 percent. Only Bernie Sanders has an overall favorable rating among all respondents, the survey shows.

Millennials place the least trust in the media, out of all the institutions tested, to do the right thing, at 9 percent. Wall Street ranked slightly better, at 11 percent, while Congress and the federal government came in at 18 percent and 23 percent respectively. Only the U.S. military was trusted by a majority of millennials to do the right thing all or most of the time, followed by President Barack Obama at 40 percent and the Supreme Court at 39 percent.

Pollsters surveyed 3,183 Americans participated in the research, which involved interviews and online interactive networks, from March 18 through April 3. The results have a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.