Survey: Millennials Love Big Government?

Last week Youth Engagement Fund and Project
New America released a new survey
on millennial ideology
. Millennials—roughly defined as those
aged 18 to 33—are my people. I tend to stick up for us. I tend to
take heart in this generation’s support
for marriage equality and ending the drug war
, among other

But holy geez Gen Y, this is a poor showing. On
measures from “creating jobs” to “making college affordable” to
“protecting the rights of women,” millennials overwhelmingly said
they favored greater government involvement. And when asked whether
they would rather have government “off their backs” or “on their
side,” 59 percent of millennials voted for friendly

For the survey, Harstad Strategic Research polled more
than 2,000 18- to 31-year-olds in March and April 2014. Of course,
it should be noted that Youth Engagement Fund, Project New America,
and Harstad are all progressive organizations. Perhaps there’s some
subtle linguistic bias driving these results? One can

Harvard University’s Institute of Politics and Pew
Research Center have also recently released surveys on Gen Y
political attitudes. While some broad similarities can be seen
among these, “it is not easy to make direct comparisons across
polls (most obviously, because of differently worded questions and
other methodological issues),” as 
Tierney notes
 at The

All three polls showed more millennials aligned with Democrats
than Republicans. But they also showed relatively large subsets of
political independents—50
percent in the Pew survey
, 38 percent in
Harvard’s survey
, and 19 percent in this latest survey. And
while this one undeniably detects a strong big government,
progressive streak in young people, Harvard’s research may paint a
decidedly more libertarian picture. From
Casey Given at The Hill

“Regarding fiscal discipline, Harvard’s November
 survey reported 58 percent support for reducing food
stamps to 2008 levels and limiting the program’s growth to the rate
of inflation. The same survey also showed strong support of
reducing military expenditures, with 51 percent approval of
decreasing the Navy fleet to 230 ships and 70 percent of lowering
the nuclear arsenal to 1,5000 warheads. Regarding social tolerance,
Harvard’s April survey reports 66 percent support of legalizing
marijuana for medical purposes and 61 percent responding that ‘a
friend’s sexual orientation is not important to me.'”

Writing in The Washington Post yesterday, British
political scientists
Anja Neundorf and Kaat Smets cautioned
against reading too much
into any of these millennial surveys, noting “the importance of
distinguishing between the effects of aging and the effects of
belonging to a certain cohort or generation when predicting
political attitudes and behaviors over the lifespan.” A series of
articles in the
latest issue
 of the journal Electoral
, co-edited by
 look at the impact of aging and
generational cohorts on voting behavior

from Hit & Run

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