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Pew Millennials Data


The Pew Research Center recently published its report titled "Millennials, A Protrait of Generation Next. Confident, Connected, Open to Change." It's a wide-ranging, data-driven portrait of the roughly 50 million Americans between the ages of 18-29.

Of course, one of the larger differentiators between Millennials and other American generations is technology. Six in ten (61%) Millennials say that their generation is "unique and distinct from other generations" and those that say their generation is distinct cite "technology use" as their greatest differentiator. In this regard, the data support what most Americans observe on a daily basis. Millennials have slightly more positive views of technology than Xers and Boomers (see page 126) and they certainly use technology to stay connected. For example, 88% of Millennials use their mobile phone to text (see page 126), 83% have placed their mobile phone next to their bed before sleeping (see page (see page 135), 75% have a profile on a social networking site (see page 125), 32% have watched a video online in the past 24 hours (see page 127) and 14% are on Twitter (page 125).

But what of Millennial's political and ideological distinctiveness?

Much has already been made of the party identification chart on page 3 of the Pew report, which shows Democratic party identification among registered Millennials dropping from a 62%-30% Democratic advantage in 2008 to a 54%-40% advantage today. While much of the focus of discussion has been this drop, it is fairly clear from the data that Millennials have a greater affinity to a liberal ideology. Jed Lewison makes this point well.

In fact, Republicans rejoicing at the decline of Democratic party identification among Millennials may be missing the forest for the trees. First, the Pew data shows that the recent narrowing of the party identification gap brings things back to roughly where they were in 2004 (53% Dem - 37% Rep in 2004 and 54% Dem - 40% Rep in 2010). For an even deeper dive on this issue, see page 67 of the report where Pew displays yearly (leaned) party identification averages based on ALL of its polling. As Kristen Soltis has pointed out, the GOP certainly has an age gap problem.

And the internals suggest that Millennials are more politically liberal than Xers, Boomers and the Silent Generation. For example:

1. In a forced choice between government doing more or less (see page 116), Millennials lean toward government activism 53%-42%.
2. When asked to describe their political views, Millennials are split 29% conservative to 29% liberal. In comparison to Xers (+13 net conservative), Boomers (+27 net conservative) and 65+ (+38 net conservative), Millennials appear to be much more politically liberal (see page 140). In fact, this data shows that while 29% of Millennials classify themselves as politically liberal, this classification declines to 25% among Xers, 17% among Boomers and 12% among those 65+.

These attitudes could certainly change over time based on economic and social events. We don't yet know how the "Great Recession", the likely collapse and reinvention of American entitlement programs, and the Obama Presidency will shape the attitudes of Millennials over the long term. But GOP rejoicing does not seem in order.

 

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