Wonky

4 Reasons The Pew Millennials Report Should Worry Democrats, Too

Supporters listen to President Obama during a campaign rally at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Va., on Nov. 3, 2012. i i

Supporters listen to President Obama during a campaign rally at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Va., on Nov. 3, 2012. Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
Supporters listen to President Obama during a campaign rally at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Va., on Nov. 3, 2012.

Supporters listen to President Obama during a campaign rally at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Va., on Nov. 3, 2012.

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

The Pew Research Center's newly-released survey on American millennials has so far been interpreted as the latest demographic disaster confronting the GOP.

According to the report, millennials — defined as Americans aged 18 to 32 — appear to vote heavily Democratic and hold liberal views on a variety of contemporary political and social issues.

The findings, based on a recent Pew Research Center survey and analysis of other Pew surveys conducted between 1990 and 2014, are unquestionably a cause for worry among Republicans. But Democrats shouldn't be too quick to view the survey as unvarnished good news.

Here are four reasons why.

Millennials Are Less Attached To The Democratic Party Label

While Pew characterizes the millennials as "strikingly Democratic" in the last two presidential elections, they are nevertheless more likely than previous generations to reject party labels. Half of millennials — up from 38 percent in 2004 — identify themselves as political independents, meaning both parties have lost ground among young people.

Millennials Are No More Liberal On Gun Control And Abortion

Of all the age groups, millennials are the most supportive of same-sex marriage, the legalization of marijuana, and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants by a wide margin. But their views on gun control and abortion are no more liberal than previous generations that Pew studied. Forty-nine percent of millennials say it's more important to protect gun rights than control gun ownership, a figure that is roughly at par with the attitudes of older generations. And 56 percent say abortion should be legal in all cases — slightly less than among Generation X, which is defined as Americans born between 1965 and 1980. Millennials are also much less likely to consider themselves environmentalists than any other generation.

Fewer Millennials See Big Differences Between The Parties

Just 31 percent of millennials say there is a great deal of difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. That's considerably less than among other generations: By comparison, 58 percent of the so-called Silent Generation (those born between 1928 to 1945) believe there are big differences between the parties.

Millennials Are As Skeptical Of Obamacare As Older Generations

Even though millennials support universal health insurance by the widest margin of any generation — and are far more supportive of President Obama than older generations — their attitude toward the Affordable Care Act is just as negative as older generations: only about four in 10 in each generation approved of the law.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.