Poll: Millennials say the country is on the wrong track, but they're not

Millennials think things in the country are off on the wrong track but at the same time, they're optimistic about their own futures, according to a new NBC News/GenForward survey.

Nearly two-thirds of millennials (63 percent) think things in this country are off on the wrong track. Only 18 percent think the country is generally headed in the right direction, and another 18 percent aren't sure.

Sixty-three percent of millennials also disapprove of the way President Donald Trump is handling his job, with nearly half (46 percent) saying they strongly disapprove. Only 2 in 10 (19 percent) approve of Trump.

Even among those millennials who said they voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election, 22 percent disapprove of him now.

At the same time, a majority of millennials (61 percent) disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.

Millennials also hold an unfavorable view of the Republican Party (62 percent). Only a quarter (24 percent) have a favorable view of the GOP.

The Democratic Party is viewed more favorably, but millennials overall are still split — 44 percent favorable to 43 percent unfavorable.

There's also a racial divide when it comes to the Democratic Party. African-American millennials view the party more favorably (65 percent) than any other racial subgroup. Majorities of Asian Americans (57 percent) and Latinos (52 percent) also view the Democratic Party favorably, but only 34 percent of white millennials have a favorable impression of the party, with 56 percent holding an unfavorable opinion.

Still, 85 percent of millennials overall agree that the government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves and their friends. That attitude is shared across racial subgroups.

When it comes to voting, candidates' positions on the issues are much more important to millennials overall (71 percent) than their personal qualities (22 percent) or party affiliation (5 percent). This suggests that millennials care more about policy than politics and could translate to their lack of excitement about either party.

RELATED: Millennial salaries across the US

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Millennials' salaries across the US
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Millennials' salaries across the US

Median personal income for all employees: $31,100

Median income for millennials: $20,000

Median personal income for all employees: $44,000

Median income for millennials: $27,500

Median personal income for all employees: $33,000

Median income for millennials: $20,800

Median personal income for all employees: $30,000

Median income for millennials: $20,000

Median personal income for all employees: $35,000

Median income for millennials: $21,900

Median personal income for all employees: $38,000

Median income for millennials: $24,000

Median personal income for all employees: $44,000

Median income for millennials: $23,300

Median personal income for all employees: $38,000

Median income for millennials: $25,000

Median personal income for all employees: $55,000

Median income for millennials: $43,000

Median personal income for all employees: $30,000

Median income for millennials: $20,000

Median personal income for all employees: $33,000

Median income for millennials: $20,000

Median personal income for all employees: $37,000

Median income for millennials: $25,900

Median personal income for all employees: $30,000

Median income for millennials: $19,000

Median personal income for all employees: $37,500

Median income for millennials: $23,000

Median personal income for all employees: $33,000

Median income for millennials: $20,000

Median personal income for all employees: $35,000

Median income for millennials: $23,000

Median personal income for all employees: $35,000

Median income for millennials: $21,000

Median personal income for all employees: $31,000

Median income for millennials: $20,000

Median personal income for all employees: $33,000

Median income for millennials: $22,000

Median personal income for all employees: $33,400

Median income for millennials: $19,200

Median personal income for all employees: $45,000

Median income for millennials: $26,000

Median personal income for all employees: $44,000

Median income for millennials: $25,000

Median personal income for all employees: $33,700

Median income for millennials: $19,300

Median personal income for all employees: $39,000

Median income for millennials: $24,000

Median personal income for all employees: $30,000

Median income for millennials: $19,400

Median personal income for all employees: $32,900

Median income for millennials: $20,000

            

Median personal income for all employees: $30,000

Median income for millennials: $18,000

Median personal income for all employees: $34,400

Median income for millennials: $23,000

Median personal income for all employees: $33,000

Median income for millennials: $24,000

Median personal income for all employees: $40,000

Median income for millennials: $21,000

Median personal income for all employees: $44,000

Median income for millennials: $25,000

Median personal income for all employees: $30,000

Median income for millennials: $19,200

Median personal income for all employees: $40,000

Median income for millennials: $25,000

Median personal income for all employees: $31,900

Median income for millennials: $20,000

Median personal income for all employees: $36,000

Median income for millennials: $25,000

Median personal income for all employees: $35,000

Median income for millennials: $20,000

Median personal income for all employees: $32,000

Median income for millennials: $22,000

Median personal income for all employees: $32,000

Median income for millennials: $20,000

Median personal income for all employees: $36,000

Median income for millennials: $23,400

Median personal income for all employees: $37,200

Median income for millennials: $20,000

Median personal income for all employees: $30,000

Median income for millennials: $19,700

Median personal income for all employees: $32,200

Median income for millennials: $21,000

Median personal income for all employees: $31,000

Median income for millennials: $20,000

Median personal income for all employees: $34,000

Median income for millennials: $22,000

Median personal income for all employees: $31,000

Median income for millennials: $20,000

Median personal income for all employees: $35,500

Median income for millennials: $24,000

Median personal income for all employees: $40,000

Median income for millennials: $25,000

Median personal income for all employees: $40,000

Median income for millennials: $24,000

Median personal income for all employees: $31,000

Median income for millennials: $19,000

Median personal income for all employees: $35,000

Median income for millennials: $20,000

Median personal income for all employees: $37,000

Median income for millennials: $24,400

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There is a slight difference among African-American millennials. They care more about a candidate's personal qualities (29 percent) than do Latinos (23 percent), whites (21 percent) and Asian Americans (19 percent). Still, 6 in 10 African Americans said a candidate's positions on the issues is most important in deciding for whom to vote.

Looking ahead to 2018, half of millennials said they were planning to vote for or were leaning toward voting for the Democratic candidate in the congressional midterm elections, and a quarter said they were planning to vote for or were leaning toward the Republican candidate.

Overall, a quarter of millennials said they were neither planning to vote for nor leaning toward voting for either party's candidate, suggesting that those millennials may not vote at all.

Similarly, 12 percent of millennials who are eligible said they've never voted — of those, a majority (53 percent) said they're not sure they'll vote in the 2018 congressional elections.

Millennials are also relatively split on the ability of elections to produce change. Only a slight majority (53 percent) of millennials feel elections are effective in producing real change in the country, and 45 percent feel elections aren't effective.

While millennials may be distancing themselves from traditional political institutions, the survey shows that they haven't given up on the country's future. Three-quarters feel the efforts of organizations and groups working in communities can be effective in producing real change in the country.

By a whopping 22-point margin, millennials think organizations and community groups are more effective at producing real change in the country than elections are.

Millennials also have an optimistic view when it comes to their own political efficacy.

RELATED: How every state voted in the 2016 election

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How every state voted in the 2016 election
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How every state voted in the 2016 election

Alabama

Donald Trump: 1,318,255 votes

Hillary Clinton: 729,547 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Alaska

Donald Trump: 163,387 votes

Hillary Clinton: 116,454 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Arkansas

Donald Trump: 684,872 votes

Hillary Clinton: 380,494 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Arizona

Donald Trump: 1,252,401 votes

Hillary Clinton: 1,161,167 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Connecticut

Donald Trump: 673,315 votes

Hillary Clinton: 897,572 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

California

Donald Trump: 4,483,810 votes

Hillary Clinton: 8,753,788 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Alaska

Donald Trump: 163,387 votes

Hillary Clinton: 116,454 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Colorado

Donald Trump: 1,202,484 votes

Hillary Clinton: 1,338,870 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Delaware

Donald Trump: 185,127 votes

Hillary Clinton: 235,603 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Florida

Donald Trump: 4,617,886 votes

Hillary Clinton: 4,504,975 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Georgia

Donald Trump: 2,089,104 votes

Hillary Clinton: 1,877,963 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Hawaii

Donald Trump: 128,847 votes

Hillary Clinton: 266,891 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Iowa

Donald Trump: 800,983 votes

Hillary Clinton: 653,669 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Illinois

Donald Trump: 2,146,015 votes

Hillary Clinton: 3,090,729 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Idaho

Donald Trump: 409,055 votes

Hillary Clinton: 189,765 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Indiana

Donald Trump: 1,557,286 votes

Hillary Clinton: 1,033,126 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Kansas

Donald Trump: 671,018 votes

Hillary Clinton: 427,005 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Kentucky

Donald Trump: 1,202,971 votes

Hillary Clinton: 628,854 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Louisiana

Donald Trump: 1,178,638 votes

Hillary Clinton: 780,154 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Maine

Donald Trump: 335,543 votes

Hillary Clinton: 357,735 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Massachusetts

Donald Trump: 1,090,893 votes

Hillary Clinton: 1,995,196 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Michigan

Donald Trump: 2,279,543 votes

Hillary Clinton: 2,268,839 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Minnesota

Donald Trump: 1,323,232 votes

Hillary Clinton: 1,367,825 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Mississippi

Donald Trump: 700,714 votes

Hillary Clinton: 485,131 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Missouri

Donald Trump: 1,594,511 votes

Hillary Clinton: 1,071,068 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Montana

Donald Trump: 279,240 votes

Hillary Clinton: 177,709 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Nebraska

Donald Trump: 495,961 votes

Hillary Clinton: 284,494 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Nevada

Donald Trump: 512,058 votes

Hillary Clinton: 539,260 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

New Hampshire

Donald Trump: 345,790 votes

Hillary Clinton: 348,526 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

New Jersey

Donald Trump: 1,601,933 votes

Hillary Clinton: 2,148,278 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

New Mexico

Donald Trump: 319,667 votes

Hillary Clinton: 385,234 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

New York

Donald Trump: 2,819,534 votes

Hillary Clinton: 4,556,124 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

North Dakota

Donald Trump: 216,794 votes

Hillary Clinton: 93,758 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Ohio

Donald Trump: 2,841,005 votes

Hillary Clinton: 2,394,164 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Oklahoma

Donald Trump: 949,136 votes

Hillary Clinton: 420,375 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Oregon

Donald Trump: 782,403 votes

Hillary Clinton: 1,002,106 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Pennsylvania

Donald Trump: 2,970,733 votes

Hillary Clinton: 2,926,441 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Rhode Island

Donald Trump: 180,543 votes

Hillary Clinton: 252,525 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

South Carolina

Donald Trump: 1,155,389 votes

Hillary Clinton: 855,373 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

South Dakota

Donald Trump: 227,721 votes

Hillary Clinton: 117,458 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Tennessee

Donald Trump: 1,522,925 votes

Hillary Clinton: 870,695 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Texas

Donald Trump: 4,685,047 votes

Hillary Clinton: 3,877,865 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Utah

Donald Trump: 515,231 votes

Hillary Clinton: 310,676 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Vermont

Donald Trump: 95,259 votes

Hillary Clinton: 178,573 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Virginia

Donald Trump: 1,769,443 votes

Hillary Clinton: 1,981,473 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Washington

Donald Trump: 1,221,747 votes

Hillary Clinton: 1,742,718 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

West Virginia

Donald Trump: 489,371 votes

Hillary Clinton: 188,794 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Wisconsin

Donald Trump: 1,405,284 votes

Hillary Clinton: 1,382,536 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

Wyoming

Donald Trump: 174,419 votes

Hillary Clinton: 55,973 votes

Data courtesy of the New York Times

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Six in 10 think they have the skills and knowledge necessary to participate in politics. Across racial subgroups, Asian Americans (49 percent) and Latinos (58 percent) were less likely to say that they have the skills and knowledge to participate than African Americans (63 percent) and whites (62 percent).

Sixty-three percent of millennials also think that by participating in politics, they can make a difference. African Americans were less likely (55 percent) than Asian Americans (67 percent), Latinos (64 percent) or whites (64 percent) to agree that by participating they can make a difference. However, majorities across racial subgroups were optimistic about the impact of their political participation.

And when it comes to their own personal futures — thinking about things like finding and keeping a good job, paying off student loan debt and being able to afford the lifestyle they want — 59 percent of millennials said they're optimistic.

So millennials are hopeful about themselves and the future — but their disillusionment with government suggests that their engagement in the 2018 midterms isn't guaranteed.

The NBC News/GenForward at the University of Chicago Survey was conducted Jan. 3-16 among a nationally representative sample of 1,844 adults ages 18-34, recruited and administered by NORC at the University of Chicago. The overall margin of sampling error is +/- 3.95 percentage points. For full results and methodology, click here.

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