Contrary to the conventional wisdom that paints the Millennial generation as being the new base of Democratic party liberalism, studies show that their political beliefs are much more complicated than that. As Kirsten Power points out, Millennials are more likely to support gay marriage than other demographic groups, but they are less likely to support abortion.
Their main political characteristics are independence, changeability, pragmatism, and disdain for static ideologies. That means Democrats can’t take them for granted and Republicans have a shot at their votes.
From Kirsten Powers, Millennial isn’t liberal: Column. [Read the whole column and go to the site for links to the studies she refers to.]
Millennials are “less likely to be satisfied with two static choices, and more apt to be swayed to change their tune,” says the report. They “are much more likely to switch the party they support from election to election — even amongst those who claim to ‘lean’ towards one party or another.”
Consider this: In a 2013 Harvard survey, 52% of 18- to 24-year-olds said they’d recall and replace President Obama.
But aren’t we always hearing about how liberal Millennials are? Third Way’s Michelle Diggles told me that while it’s true they are more liberal than previous generations, “a plurality of Millennials are moderates.” She added, “They are more pro-gay marriage, but also slightly less likely to support legalized abortion.” This mix-and-match approach on divisive social issues is unique, reflecting Millennials’ non-ideological views.
Diggles pointed out that what drew Millennials to Obama was his post-racial, post-partisan message. They were not checking the Democratic box. The report found that “Millennials are pragmatic — they want to know what works and are willing to take ideas from each side. They eschew ideological purity tests.”
Though Millennials are often mocked for being self-involved, the report paints a picture of a complicated generational mindset that won’t be receptive to the usual tribal overtures of the political parties. Millennials appear to put a lot of thought into their choices, with little concern for what the parties tell them.
Most of them don’t even claim a political party. Half of all Millennials identified as Independent in a recent Pew report.