Reason-Rupe has a new survey and report out on
millennials—find the report
Millennials aren’t liberals; they are social liberals and fiscal
centrists. And it’s largely social issues driving the distance
between millennials and Republicans.
Traditional ideological labels don’t allow millennials to
distinguish their positions on social tolerance from those on
economics. But when given
the opportunity, millennials do distinguish between the
Fully 62 percent of millennials identify as liberal
on social issues. While considerably less—49 percent—indicate
they are liberal on economic issues. In other words, the
average millennial is a social liberal and a fiscal centrist.
Millennials Agree More with Obama on Social Issues than
Interestingly, millennials see themselves as closer to President
Obama on social issues, but not so much on economic issues.
in-depth graphics here). When millennials indicate how they
perceive President Obama’s positions on economic issues alone, they
see him as considerably further left than themselves. But on social
issues, they see the President as having more similar views to
The survey also asked millennials to indicate where they saw
former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s positions on both
economics and social issues respectively, as well as Gov. Chris
Christie, Sen. Rand Paul, and the Republicans in Congress.
Millennials actually see themselves as closer to Gov. Chris
Christie, a Republican, on economic issues, but closer to Hillary
Clinton, a Democrat, on social issues. (Even still, they are
likely voting for Clinton).
Social Issues Driving the Distance Between Millennials and
Young Americans also perceive themselves as right in between
(equidistant) Hillary Clinton and Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican, on
economics, but closer to Clinton on social issues. They feel
furthest from Republicans in Congress on both social and economic
issues, but primarily social.
Overall, millennials are indeed closer to Democrats than
Republicans, but social issues are driving this distance. If only
economics divided the political parties, millennials would find
themselves right in the middle. However, factoring in their social
issue positions, millennials move into the Democratic camp. It may
be that social issues explain
why millennials have increasingly abandoned the GOP in presidential
elections since 2004 (see Pew’s
This can be demonstrated using the following chart that plots
where each millennial respondent saw themselves on social issues
(horizontal axis) and economic issues (vertical axis) respectively.
(The chart above is somewhat analogous to a Nolan
Chart that divides and then plots public opinion on a
two-dimensional chart representing preferences for both economic
and personal freedoms.)
Mapping millennials’ ideological preferences demonstrates
- First, millennials don’t fall into the traditional left-right
mold of American politics. A considerable number see themselves as
socially liberal and economically conservative (17%) and some as
socially conservative and economically liberal (6%).
- Second, the millennials’ center of gravity is socially liberal
and fiscally centrist.
- Third, social tolerance issues, not economics, are primarily
driving the distance between millennials and Republicans.
A cluster analysis which finds natural groups of respondents
found the following: The largest group was of social liberals who
were moderately liberal on economic issues (Grey-28%), followed by
left liberals (Blue-18%), centrists (Purple-17%), right
conservatives (Pink-14%), libertarians (Green-12%), social
conservatives who were moderately conservative on economic issues
(Magenta-8%), and communitarians (Orange-4%).
To learn more about
out Reason-Rupe’s new report.
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