NPR logo Generation Gap: How Age Shapes Political Outlook

Generation Gap: How Age Shapes Political Outlook

A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds wide gaps in how different generations view politics. Older voters are more conservative, more angry at the government and less hopeful about the future of the country. Younger voters lean left, wish the government played a greater role in their lives and believe the nation's best days are yet to come. If the "silent generation" controlled the country, Mitt Romney would win the election next year. If millennials had their way, President Obama would win a second term — and his health care law would be expanded. Boomers and Gen Xers fall in between these extremes, but seem to grow more conservative with age. A look at how the generations line up:

Silent Generation
Born: 1928-1945
Current Age: 66-83

Baby Boomers
Born: 1946-1964
Current age: 47-65

Generation X
Born: 1965-1980
Current age: 31-46

Born: 1981-1993
Current age: 18-30

Millennials favor Obama by 26 points. Silent: Romney by 10. All voters: Tied.
Graphs: declining trust in govt, rising anger toward govt, attitudes toward govt in daily life
Voters are more likely to self-identify as 'conservative' than 'liberal.'
Generational split in attitudes toward American exceptionalism, US progress since 1960s
Graphs: Majorities of Millennials and GenXers see GOP as 'more extreme'
Younger voters more in favor of expanding health care law; older voters favor repeal