Two recent studies — one released by the Pew Research Center and one by Third Way — show that the generation that helped elect President Obama in 2008 now identifies as independent more than ever. Millennials who may have voted with youthful exuberance in 2008 seem to have grown fatigued with the government’s inability to get things done.
In 2009, 42 percent of millennials said government programs are usually inefficient and wasteful, according to Pew data. By 2012, that number had increased to 51 percent. And young people say they’re losing trust in the government to Do the Right Thing. In 2009, 44 percent of millennials said they trust the government to do what’s right all or most of the time. By 2013, that dropped to 29 percent.
Perhaps as a result of this political fatigue, more and more millennials are starting to identify as politically independent. Third Way — a think tank that advocates for centrist public policy — says millennials may lean Democratic, but more are opting to pick and choose their politics:
They may be voting for Democrats by wider margins than Republicans, but there’s no indication that they have bought the prix fixe menu of policy options historically offered by the Democratic Party, nor that brand loyalty to the Party will cement them as Democrats forever.
The study also found that millennials are more open to switching brands than past generations. Third Way found that 85 percent of millennials would be willing to switch brands if it aligned with a cause they support.
You could argue that the Democratic and Republican parties are two of the biggest brands in the U.S. And like any good company, they need to work to show the coveted 18-to-29-year-old population that they’re better than their competition. (Pew defines millennials as people born between 1981 and 1996.)
Then again, millennials are opting out of the Democratic/Republican brand war altogether. According to Pew, each successive generation has grown increasingly weary of strict party politics. Since 2004, the portion of millennials who identify as independents has grown from 38 percent to 50 percent — more than the percentage who identify as Republican and Democratic combined.
But just because more millennials identify as independents doesn’t necessarily mean they’re more moderate than past generations. The Pew study found that, over the past 10 years, millennials “have remained the most liberal and least conservative of the four generations.”
Almost a third of millennials identify as liberal, versus 39 percent who identify as moderate and 26 percent who identify as conservative. The Silent Generation identifies as more Democratic, but millennials are more liberal.
Millennials have long been the carbuncle on the GOP’s backside, but these studies suggest some ways that Republicans can make inroads with younger voters. Twentysomethings today are less ideologically “pure” than older voters, and therefore more likely to be swayed to one side or another.
What larger lessons can we take from these studies? Like Walt Whitman, the millennial generation contains multitudes. Twentysomethings today can’t be simplified to the keffiyeh-wearing, selfie-taking hipster that graces a magazine cover story every three months.
But overarching trends seem to suggest a waning belief that the government can actually get things done, and a growing belief that America most draws its strength from entrepreneurship. To win over swaths of millennials in the next election, Democrats need to show they support that entrepreneurship, and Republicans need to show that they’re open to government solutions where the free market fails.
What We're Following See More »
After keeping the information private for most of the lead-up to the debate on Monday, it has been revealed that longtime Clinton aide Philippe Reines has been playing the role of Donald Trump in her debate prep. Reines knows Clinton better than most, able to identify both her strengths and weaknesses, and his selection for a sparring partner shows that Clinton is preparing for the brash and confrontational Donald Trump many have come to expect.
- A national Washington Post/ABC News poll shows Clinton leading Trump by just two points among likely voters, 46% to 44%.
- A national Bloomberg poll out Monday morning by Selzer & Co. has Clinton and Trump tied at 46% in a two-way race, and Trump ahead 43% to 41% in a four-way race.
- A CNN/ORC poll in Colorado shows likely voters’ support for Trump at 42%, 41% for Clinton, and a CNN/ORC poll in Pennsylvania has Clinton at 45% and Trump at 44%.
- A Portland Press Herald/UNH survey in Maine has Clinton leading Trump in ME-01 and Trump ahead in ME-02.
More than 30 times, in the case of some donors. Long before Cruz endorsed Trump—and before he even snubbed the nominee at the Republican National Convention—"the senator quietly began renting his vast donor email file to his former rival, pocketing at least tens of thousands of dollars, and more likely hundreds of thousands, that can be used to bankroll the Texan’s own political future."
"A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 34% of registered voters think the three presidential debates would be extremely or quite important in helping them decide whom to support for president. About 11% of voters are considered 'debate persuadables'—that is, they think the debates are important and are either third-party voters or only loosely committed to either major-party candidate."
Will he or won't he? That's the question surrounding Donald Trump and his on-again, off-again threats to bring onetime Bill Clinton paramour Gennifer Flowers to the debate as his guest. An assistant to flowers initially said she'd be there, but Trump campaign chief Kellyanne Conway "said on ABC’s 'This Week' that the Trump campaign had not invited Flowers to the debate, but she didn’t rule out the possibility of Flowers being in the audience."