Friday, January 16, 2004

Young people's trust in government falters

By Carl Weiser
Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON - Young Americans in the past two years have lost some of their trust in government, according to a poll out Thursday.

"While it's not fair to say it's a dark mood, there's no question young people continue to have questions about the direction of the country and doubt whether there are good plans to solve our problems," Ed Goeas said. The Republican pollster, with Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, conducted the poll for two groups focused on civic engagement.

The poll of 1,000 Americans ages 15 to 25 found that those who say they trust the government to do the right thing a lot or some of the time fell from 62 percent in January 2002 to 50 percent in November 2003.

It's partly the result of a return to normal following a burst of patriotism that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Goeas said.

Younger Americans who identify themselves as Democrats and liberals lost much of that trust. Drops among Republican conservatives were less.

President Bush lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, Mack said.

Even Ben Gibson, a College Republican at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, said it's not surprising that people trust the government less.

"I would think the Clinton scandal would make you a little cynical," he said.

The poll showed young Americans have concerns almost identical to their older counterparts: the economy, Iraq and terrorism. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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