A new study of the Millennial generation shows that even as they distrust government, they still trend to the left-wing of the political spectrum despite that their voting habits are opposed to their claimed mistrust of government.
Millennials, the 1980s-born generation now well into their adult years, have turned away from their early hero worship of Barack Obama and his Democrat Party focus, but that doesn’t seem to mean they are voting with Republicans.
A new Pew Research Center study, “Millennials in Adulthood,” shows a generation increasingly detached from traditional institutions, religious and secular as well as private and political. But this does not mean they are isolated as they rely on social media and networks of friends more than ever.
As to their thoughts on government, the study found that in 2009, 42 percent of respondents felt that government was inefficient and wasteful, but by 2013 that percentage has grown almost ten percent, reaching 51 percent today.
Millennials are also identifying as political independents far more than previously (38 percent in 2009 compared to 50 percent now), and their trust in government has cratered. In 2009, 44 percent of the age group thought government does what’s right most of the time, but that trust rate has now dropped to 29 percent.
This doesn’t mean that Republicans and small government conservatives should start rejoicing, because this generation’s voting habits still lean heavily Democrat. This shows that their frustration with government doesn’t necessarily skew their thinking anti-government or that they think government does too much but that it just isn’t doing enough successfully.
The study found that a low 26 percent identify as conservatives, while fully a third claim to be liberal. That assumed liberalism, though, did not necessarily translate to association with the Democrat Party.
Another aspect of this generation is its racial diversity, with 43 percent of the generation being non-white. The poll also says that this racial diversity is “a trend driven by the large wave of Hispanic and Asian immigrants who have been coming to the U.S. for the past half century, and whose U.S. born children are now aging into adulthood.”
Marriage is also given less importance by Millennials, yet another example of the hurdle traditional conservatives’ views have making inroads with the age bracket.
Still, one aspect of the Millennials’ view on marriage might show a way for conservatives to appeal to them; 69 percent said that they’d like to marry but cannot justify doing so because they feel financially unstable. If the GOP can offer a way to solve that uneasiness, they may yet find a way to appeal to Millennials.
Obamacare is also viewed with disdain by Millennials if their signup rate is any indication. This, though, may be an outgrowth of not paying attention to politics enough to understand that Obamacare is now a legal requirement coupled with their newfound distrust of government.
This poll shows that the next generation of conservative leaders have a lot of obstacles in their way in getting Millennials on their side. This poll could serve as a guide as they craft their platform to appeal to the next generations.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org