Millennials Say Government Inefficient, Abusive, Supports Cronyism

A Reason-Rupe Survey of 2,000 American millennials between the ages of 18 and 29 titled “Millennials: The Politically Unclaimed Generation” found that 66% believe government is inefficient and wasteful, up by 24% since 2009. 

Only 18% of millennials believe government regulators act in the public’s interest, while 63% say regulators favor special interests. Millennials also believe by over two to one that government agencies abuse their powers.

The Reason-Rupe report finds that because of millennials' skepticism of government, they favor general reductions to government spending and regulations:

  • 73% favor allowing private accounts for Social Security;
  • 51% favor private accounts even it means cutting Social Security benefits for current and future retirees;
  • 53% say Social Security is unlikely to exist when they retire;
  • 64% say cutting government spending by 5% would help the economy;
  • 59% say cutting taxes would help the economy;
  • 57% prefer a smaller government providing fewer services with low taxes, while only 41% prefer a larger government providing more services with high taxes;
  • 57% want a society where wealth is distributed according to achievement;
  • 55% say reducing regulations would help the economy; and
  • 53% say reducing the size of government would help the economy.

However, alongside their belief in smaller government, millennials paradoxically support more government action and higher spending in certain areas:

  • 74% say government has a responsibility to guarantee every citizen has a place to sleep and enough to eat;
  • 71% favor raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour;
  • 69% say government responsible to provide everyone with health insurance;
  • 51% have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act;
  • 68% say government should ensure everyone makes a living wage;
  • 66% say raising taxes on the wealthy would help the economy;
  • 63% say spending more on job training would help the economy;
  • 58% favor spending more on assistance to the poor, even it means higher taxes;
  • 57% favor spending more money on infrastructure
  • 54% favor a larger government and services when taxes aren’t mentioned; and
  • 53% want a guarantee for everyone to get a college education.

Millennials are fairly united in political philosophy:

  • 62% describe themselves as socially liberal;
  • 27% say they are socially conservative.

However, millennials’ philosophy on economic issues narrows the liberal / conservative gap:

  • 49% identify themselves as economic liberals;
  • 36% label themselves as economic conservatives.

Millennials are strongly opposed to nanny state regulations:

  • 72% of millennials say large sugary sodas and drinks should be allowed for sale;
  • 67% of millennials favor legalizing same-sex marriage;
  • 61% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases;
  • 61% say people should be able to buy foods containing trans fat;
  • 60% want to allow e-cigarette use in public places;
  • 59% say the government should allow online gambling;
  • 57% say marijuana should be legal; although
  • 22% say cocaine should be legal; and
  • 52% say either the government should not set a legal drinking age or that the legal drinking age should be lower than 21.

Millennials’ voting intentions for 2014:

  • 76% say they plan to vote in the 2014 midterm elections;
  • 53% plan to vote for Democratic Congressional candidate;
  • 11% less plan to vote for Democratic Congressional candidate than 2012; and
  • 29% plan to vote for Republican Congressional candidate.

Millennials have generally Democratic voting intentions for 2016:

  • 39% favor Democrat Hillary Clinton for President;
  • 8% favor Democrat Elizabeth Warren for President;
  • 6% favor Vice President Joe Biden;
  • 6% favor Republican Rep. Paul Ryan;
  • 5% favor Republican Sen. Rand Paul; and
  • 5% favor Republican former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Indeed, more millennials identify as Democrat than Republican, though far more than either identify as Independent:

  • 43% identify as independents;
  • 35% identify as Democrats; and
  • 23% identify as Republicans.

Millennials don’t identify with the political parties and don’t have much confidence in them. When asked who they trust most to handle a series of policy issues, young Americans said they trust “neither” party to handle 12 of 15 issues surveyed. Millennials do trust Democrats the most on gay marriage, the environment, and poverty. Millennials only trust Republicans the most on promoting entrepreneurship.

The author welcomes feedback and will respond to reader comments.

From July 15th to July 29th, Chriss Street will be teaching “Entrepreneurship and Capitalist Business Strategy” at Ho Chi Mihn University in Vietnam.


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