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New PEW poll: 50% of millennials are political independents

WASHINGTON— About half of millenials— folks between the ages of 18 and 33 — are not identifying with political parties, almost a third are not affiliated with a religion and no surprise, heavily use social media to build personal and professional networks. Those are among the findings of a new national survey, “Millenials in Adulthood” by the Pew Research Center. And all of these findings have implications for political strategists who study how to communicate and persuade millenial voters.

“Millennials are forging a distinctive path into adulthood. Compared with older generations, they’re unmoored from three anchor institutions of society – political parties, organized religion and marriage,” said Paul Taylor, Pew Research Center’s executive vice president for special projects and author of a new book, “The Next America.” “They are our most racially diverse generation ever. Politically, they’re liberal. Economically they’re stressed. But they are optimistic about the future, and they’ve taken the lead in using the technologies of the digital era to build their own personal networks through social media.”

“Even as Millennials identify less with the Democratic Party than at their peak in 2008, they stand out for voting heavily Democratic and for liberal views on many political and social issues,” said Carroll Doherty, director of political research. “But Millennials’ enthusiasm for Obama has faded. They’re still more supportive than other Americans – and this is driven in large part by the positive ratings for Obama among non-white Millennials.”

Key PEW findings for political operatives:

* “Millennials are less likely than older generations to see a difference between the two major political parties. Just 31% say there is a great deal of difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. More people in older generations, including 58% of Silents, say there are big differences between the parties. Yet Millennials continue to view the Democratic Party more favorably than the Republican Party. And Millennials today are still the only generation in which liberals are not significantly outnumbered by conservatives.”

*Millennials are liberal on some social issues – but not all. On social issues, a majority of Millennials (57%) say their views have become more liberal over the course of their lives. By contrast, about half or more in older generations – including 52% of Gen Xers – say their social views have become more conservative over the course of their lives. Millennials’ liberalism is apparent in their views on a range of social issues such as same-sex marriage, interracial marriage and marijuana legalization. In all of these realms, they are more liberal than their elders. However, on some other social issues – including abortion and gun control – the views of Millennials are not much different from those of older adults.”