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Millennial poll: Strong majority want a third political party

A strong majority of millennials — 71 percent — say the Republican and Democratic parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed, according to the results of a new NBC News/GenForward poll.

Sixty-three percent of millennials disapprove of the way President Donald Trump is handling his job as president. But millennials also hold a variety of political institutions in poor regard, and 65 percent think the country is on the wrong track overall.

Six in ten disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job, while 59 percent have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party and 42 percent have an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party. On the whole, millennials overwhelmingly do not think either party cares about people like them.

These views may help explain why a large majority of young adults — across racial subgroups, genders and partisan affiliations — say a third major party is needed. The survey was conducted October 26 to November 10, among a nationally representative sample of 1,876 adults aged 18-34.

White millennials, at 75 percent, are most likely to express a desire for a third party, with strong majorities of African Americans (69 percent), Asian Americans (69 percent) and Latinos (64 percent) agreeing.

Three quarters of men, 74 percent, said that a third major party is needed and only 23 percent said the Republican and Democratic parties do an adequate job representing the American people. Women were more likely to say that the parties do an adequate job (29 percent) but a sizable majority (69 percent) still said a third party is needed.

Eight in 10 white men said that a third party is needed — more than Asian American men (71 percent), Latino men (67 percent) and African American men (65 percent).

Image: Voters fill out their paper ballots in a polling place on election day
Voters fill out their paper ballots in a polling place on election day Nov. 8, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia. Alex Wong / Getty Images file

But slightly more African American women said a third party is needed (73 percent) than white women (70 percent), Asian American women (67 percent) and Latino women (61 percent).

Independent millennials who do not lean toward either party and millennials who identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaners were more likely to say a third party is needed (74 percent and 75 percent, respectively) than millennials who identify as Republicans or Republican-leaners (67 percent). Three in 10 Republicans said the parties do an adequate job, compared to a quarter of Democrats and only 22 percent of Independents.

Republican women are more likely than Republican men to say that the two major parties do an adequate job representing the people — 45 percent to 22 percent, respectively. Independent women are also more likely than Independent men (24 percent to 17 percent) to say that the two major parties do an adequate job.

The NBC News/GenForward at the University of Chicago Survey was conducted Oct. 26-Nov. 10, 2017, among a nationally representative sample of 1,876 adults ages 18-34, recruited and administered by NORC at the University of Chicago. The overall margin of sampling error is +/- 3.92 percentage points. For full results and methodology, click here.