Young Americans are more optimistic about the future and far more approving of U.S. leadership under President Biden than during ex-president Donald Trump’s tenure, according to a new Harvard Youth Poll released on Friday, April 23, 2021.
Biden has hit the highest favorability rating — 63 percent — among college students who are registered voters of any president in the youth poll’s 21-year history, according to the poll.
Sitting at an overall 59 percent approval rating with those surveyed, Biden’s popularity among young voters also marks a dramatic U-turn for the 78-year-old president: at this time last year, only 34 percent of all young adults viewed Biden favorably, per the spring 2020 Harvard Youth Poll. Read the full results here.
- Fifty-nine percent of 18-to-29-year-old Americans approve of Biden’s overall job performance; 65 approve of his handling of the coronavirus; and 57 percent of race relations, according to the poll.
Young Americans are more hopeful about the future of America than they were in the fall of 2017 – almost a year after former president Trump took office. Only 31 percent of young Americans were hopeful about the future of America at the time and 67 percent were fearful.
Four years later, 56 percent of young Americans are more optimistic – especially young people of color.
- “While the hopefulness of young whites has increased 11 points, from 35 percent to 46 percent – the changes in attitudes among young people of color are striking,” according to a memo penned by Della Volpe. “Whereas only 18 percent of young Blacks had hope in 2017, today 72 percent are hopeful (+54). In 2017, 29 percent of Hispanics called themselves hopeful, today that number is 69% (+40).”
- Notable: the polling was conducted before the verdict that found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
- “It wasn’t long ago at all that a supermajority of young Black Americans – and almost as many Hispanic Americans – would tell me that they felt under attack in America simply because of the color of their skin,” Della Volpe noted.
And for all of the caricatures of young Americans, the poll found that young people are open-minded, more likely to be politically engaged than they were a decade ago and favor big government solutions to problems.
- Thirty-six percent of young Americans are politically active, with young Black voters (41 percent) the most active among that group. That’s a 12-point difference from a 2009 poll that found in the fall after Obama’s election that 24 percent of young Americans considered themselves to be politically active.
- “By a margin of nearly three-to-one, we found that youth agreed with the sentiment, ‘Americans with different political views from me still want what’s best for the country’ — in total, 50% agreed, 18% disagreed, and 31% were recorded as neutral,” according to Della Volpe’s memo.
- The poll found a majority of young Americans favor government intervention on the issues of poverty, combating climate change, and health care.