NEW YORK: Don’t tell 20-year-old Nestor Aguilera he can’t effect change in politics.

The Indiana University business major protested outside President Donald Trump’s recent appearance in Aguilera’s home of Elkhart, Ind. And while he says he didn’t vote in 2016, he’s promising to show up for this fall’s midterm elections.

“If young people decide to go out there and vote, we have the power to affect what the government does,” Aguilera said. “We could have a big impact.”

Aguilera is among a small — but significant — surge of young people who say they feel politically empowered in the latest Youth Political Pulse survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV. It’s a change from a past survey that comes after a school shooting in Florida that elevated the voices of high school students in American politics, and five months before Americans will decide whether Trump’s Republican Party will maintain control of Congress for another two years.

A slim majority, 54 percent, of people ages 15 to 34 — a group that is typically the least likely to vote — continue to believe they have little or no effect on government. But 46 percent of young people now believe they can have at least a moderate effect, a significant increase from two months earlier, when 37 percent said the same.

In that time, a group of students from Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a February shooting killed 17, has succeeded in keeping the debate about gun safety in the news. They joined Tuesday with the New York-based organization HeadCount in an effort to hold voter registration drives at 90 percent of the nation’s high schools before this year’s senior class graduates.

The recent rise in political engagement is particularly apparent among Americans ages 15 to 22, a group that includes teenagers who will be eligible to vote in a presidential election for the first time in 2020. The poll found that 48 percent now think they can have at least some effect on the government, after just 33 percent felt that way in March.

There’s also an uptick in the number of young people who say politicians care what they think: 34 percent of 15-to-34-year-olds report that elected officials care at least a moderate amount about what they think, while just 25 percent said so two months ago.

At the same time, two-thirds say they think the government is not functioning well, and just over half — 52 percent — say they rarely or never read or watch news about the midterm elections.