Just 23 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 say they will "definitely" vote in the midterm elections this November, according to a new survey from the Harvard's Institute of Politics (IOP).
The new data marks the lowest level of interest in any election that the IOP has found among young adults since it began surveying them 14 years ago. The percentage of young adults who will "definitely" vote in November dropped 11 points in just the last five months.
The latest poll, which surveyed 3,058 18- to 29-year-old U.S. citizens between March 22 and April 4, had a margin of error of 1.8 points. While 23 percent of young adults said they will definitely vote, another 16 percent said they will probably vote. One quarter said there's a 50-50 chance, while 20 percent said they probably won't vote and 16 percent said they definitely won't vote.
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IOP leaders linked the lack of interest in the election to young adults' apparent distrust of government. Just 20 percent of millennials surveyed said they trust the federal government to "do the right thing" all or most of the time, while 56 percent said they trust the government to do the right thing some of the time. Another 24 percent said they never trust it. Similarly, 28 percent said they never trust Congress to do the right thing, and 22 percent said they never trust the president to do the right thing.
"It's been clear for some time now that young people are growing more disillusioned and disconnected from Washington," Harvard Institute of Politics Polling Director John Della Volpe said in a statement. "There's an erosion of trust in the individuals and institutions that make government work."
The Harvard survey found that Republican-aligned millennials are more enthusiastic about the midterms. As many as 44 percent of those who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 said they will "definitely be voting," while 35 percent of 2012 Barack Obama voters said the same. Moreover, self-identified conservatives (at 32 percent) are 10 points more likely to vote than liberals (22 percent).
The survey found that President Obama's approval rating among millennials has improved six points since the fall but still stands at just 47 percent.
Republican National Committee spokesman Raffi Williams said the survey results were not surprising. "Young adults are stuck in neutral--they are paying more for healthcare and unable to find jobs on right career track," Williams said in a statement.
Another poll released Tuesday by the Washington Post and ABC News also had bad news for Democrats. Mr. Obama's approval rating in that poll fell to 41 percent -- the lowest of his presidency, according to the Post/ABC survey.
Registered voters were split over whether they intended to vote for a Democratic House candidate this fall (45 percent) or a Republican (44 percent). However, 53 percent of voters said it was important for Republicans to control the House in order to serve as a check against Mr. Obama. Just 39 percent said it was important for Democrats to have control to support the president's policies.