Harvard poll: Millennials distrust government, U.S. justice system

By Amy R. Connolly
Screenshot from Harvard University Institute of Politics
1 of 3 | Screenshot from Harvard University Institute of Politics

BOSTON, April 30 (UPI) -- American millennials are split on whether the United States justice system is fair to varied races and ethnicities and do not trust Washington, a new Harvard poll found.

The poll, released by the Harvard Institute of Politics, found Americans aged 18 to 29 care about issues that include the economy, criminal justice and same-sex marriage. They vote, but they don't feel politically engaged. They like Ben Carson, a likely Republican presidential hopeful, but also favor Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.


The survey of more than 3,000 young adults from March 18 to April 1 found their political attitudes were different than that of previous generations. A majority support a more forceful American foreign policy and want American troops to eradicate the Islamic State in the Middle East. "A lot of people consider young people today to be the same young people from 2008, but this poll shows that is not true," John Della Volpe, who conducted the survey, told the Boston Globe.

Among the other findings in the Harvard study:


* Millennials are divided in their trust of the justice system, with 49 percent lacking confidence and 49 percent saying the system is fair. Largely, the trust in the justice system is race dependent. Some 66 percent of black millennials have no confidence in the system, compared to 43 percent of whites. Most also believe social justice movements, like #BlackLivesMatter, don't make an meaningful change.

* An overwhelming majority, 80 percent, said body cameras on local police would reduce the rate of racial inequities.

* Nearly 70 percent said they are registered to vote, and 60 percent said they voted in 2012. Young Democrats overwhelmingly endorsed Clinton with a 47 percent approval rating. For the Republicans, Carson won a 10 percent approval rating, closely trailed by Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and others. None of the 16 Republican presidential candidates presented through the survey garnered more than 10 percent of the vote.

* Millennials overwhelmingly said they distrust Congress and the federal government. A larger percentage said they trust the military (53 percent) and the Supreme Court (42 percent).


* For social media usage, 83 percent overall said they have Facebook accounts, 44 percent have Instagram accounts and 39 percent have Twitter accounts. They also use Pinterest, Snapchat and Tumblr.

The millennials are a coveted group among politicians, advertisers and retailers. They are the largest, most diverse generation, representing one-third of the total U.S. population. They are educated, vote and are the first generation to have internet access in their formative years.

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