Young People See American Politics as Less Civil, IOP Survey Finds

American young people agree that political discourse has become less civil in the last five years, according to an Institute of Politics survey of 771 18- to 29-year olds.

A majority of respondents to the survey said that the political discourse has grown more hostile in tone. The poll found that 62 percent of respondents—including 72 percent of Republican respondents and 54 percent of Democrats—believe that the “tone and level of civility” in politics has decreased in the last five years.

The poll’s results come more than two months after a presidential election that many have characterized as bitter and divisive. At Harvard and around the country, many have spoken out against Trump and protested actions taken by his administration, including an executive action signed last week that bars immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the United States.

When asked about their confidence in the country’s future after President Donald Trump’s inaugural address, the survey respondents split along party lines. Seventy percent of Republicans and only 11 percent of Democrats described themselves as “hopeful” after hearing the speech on Jan. 20. Forty-eight percent of Democrats said they felt “fearful.”

In general, respondents were roughly evenly divided between hope, fear, and uncertainty in their attitudes about the country’s future under Trump.


Following a nationwide trend, a majority of survey respondents said they approved of the job Barack Obama did as president. Sixty-four percent of overall respondents said they approved of Obama’s performance, with including 95 percent of Democrat respondents and 25 percent of Republican respondents supporting Obama's tenure.

The IOP issues its Young Americans’ Attitudes poll several times per year, adjusting questions based on political current events. In spring 2016, for example, the survey polled favorability of then-presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, John Kasich, and Hillary Clinton.

—Staff writer Lucas Ward can be reached at Follow him on twitter at @LucaspfWard.


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