Ipsos/Diane Rehm Show Study of Millennials

The data from the Ipsos/NPR Study of Millennials was released today. For full analysis, please visit Ipsos News and Polls.

  • Younger voters, or Millennials (ages 18-34), are distinct from their older counterparts on a number of dimensions, but strikingly similar on others.
  • In particular, when it comes to differences, younger voters are:
    • More progressive in their orientation
    • More likely to understand the American Dream in pluralistic terms versus rugged individualism
    • Less white / more non-white
    • More likely to support an activist state
    • Less likely to identify with an existing party
    • More optimistic about the future
    • Historically less likely to vote and less enthusiastic this year
    • Much more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump
    • And, more likely to use technology – especially social media

more nonwhitedeclining party id

  • The key questions about these differences are:
    • Are these differences permanent – something ingrained in the DNA of this new generation of voters? Social scientists call these “permanent” types of differences Generational or Cohort effects. These differences tend to be more long-lasting and “sticky”.
    • Or, are these differences part of the life-cycle or a function of aging? Do voters without a job, or kids, or a mortgage – or who are simply younger – think and act differently than those that have these things? Social scientists call such differences age or life-cycle effects.
    • The answer is a mixed bag. Some of the differences, we see, are a result of the life-cycle, but others are real generational differences.
  • Generational Change
    • Younger generations entering the population are more progressive, more nonwhite, and less aligned politically than older generations.
    • The empirical data is clear here.  These differences portend longer-term social change.

progressive youth

  • Life Cycle Differences
    • In contrast, greater optimism, lower voter turnout, lower voter enthusiasm, and stronger belief in an activist government all appear to be a function of the life-cycle.
      • Put differently, as voters age, they become more pessimistic, more likely to vote, and more likely to believe in a smaller government. But such differences are not necessarily the harbingers of  longer-term societal change.

optimistic youth

government should do more

  • Finally, on several key issues of this election, younger voters are similar to their older counterparts:
    • Specifically, on the question of the main problems facing the nation, young and old alike believe that “economy & jobs” and “terrorism” are the most important priorities.
    • There is also little difference by age on two of the most important themes of this election year, with a strong majority of younger and older voters believing that “the system is broken” and that “there should be restrictions on immigration”.
      • Could these drivers be leading indicators of politics to come?

restrictions on immigration economy is rigged