Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Millennials Are Social Liberals, Fiscal Centrists


Reason-Rupe has a new survey and report out on millennials—find the report here

Millennials aren't liberals; they are social liberals and fiscal centrists. And it's largely social issues driving the distance between millennials and Republicans.

Traditional ideological labels don't allow millennials to distinguish their positions on social tolerance from those on economics. But when given the opportunity, millennials do distinguish between the two.

Fully 62 percent of millennials identify as liberal on social issues. While considerably less—49 percent—indicate they are liberal on economic issues. In other words, the average millennial is a social liberal and a fiscal centrist.

Millennials Agree More with Obama on Social Issues than Economics

Interestingly, millennials see themselves as closer to President Obama on social issues, but not so much on economic issues. (Find more in-depth graphics here). When millennials indicate how they perceive President Obama's positions on economic issues alone, they see him as considerably further left than themselves. But on social issues, they see the President as having more similar views to their own.

The survey also asked millennials to indicate where they saw former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's positions on both economics and social issues respectively, as well as Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Rand Paul, and the Republicans in Congress.

Millennials actually see themselves as closer to Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, on economic issues, but closer to Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, on social issues. (Even still, they are likely voting for Clinton).

Social Issues Driving the Distance Between Millennials and Republicans

Young Americans also perceive themselves as right in between (equidistant) Hillary Clinton and Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican, on economics, but closer to Clinton on social issues. They feel furthest from Republicans in Congress on both social and economic issues, but primarily social.

Overall, millennials are indeed closer to Democrats than Republicans, but social issues are driving this distance. If only economics divided the political parties, millennials would find themselves right in the middle. However, factoring in their social issue positions, millennials move into the Democratic camp. It may be that social issues explain why millennials have increasingly abandoned the GOP in presidential elections since 2004 (see Pew's chart here).

This can be demonstrated using the following chart that plots where each millennial respondent saw themselves on social issues (horizontal axis) and economic issues (vertical axis) respectively. (kdensity plots found here).

(The chart above is somewhat analogous to a Nolan Chart that divides and then plots public opinion on a two-dimensional chart representing preferences for both economic and personal freedoms.)

Mapping millennials' ideological preferences demonstrates several things:

  • First, millennials don't fall into the traditional left-right mold of American politics. A considerable number see themselves as socially liberal and economically conservative (17%) and some as socially conservative and economically liberal (6%).
  • Second, the millennials' center of gravity is socially liberal and fiscally centrist.
  • Third, social tolerance issues, not economics, are primarily driving the distance between millennials and Republicans.

A cluster analysis which finds natural groups of respondents found the following: The largest group was of social liberals who were moderately liberal on economic issues (Grey-28%), followed by left liberals (Blue-18%), centrists (Purple-17%), right conservatives (Pink-14%), libertarians (Green-12%), social conservatives who were moderately conservative on economic issues (Magenta-8%), and communitarians (Orange-4%).

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To learn more about millennials, check out Reason-Rupe's new report.

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  1. Goddammit.

    1. Would the anti-millennial poll minority please shut up so the majority can enjoy reading in silence!!!

  2. I think of Emily Ekins has essentially become John Nash.

    1. Reason must have paid a metric shedload of money for that poll and the fancy report that came with it, so it’s understandable that they’re milking it for posts.

      That said, it has become a most tedious topic.

      1. There are lots of topics that are treated here extra repeatedly over the course of a year or few. You’re just bugged that they do the poll analysis all at once and that there’s no news hook for it.

  3. How do you define economic conservative? Is it the free market mentality or the lets subsidize big business for the economy mentality?

    It is also interesting to see how many people are at a pole.

    Reason, you should release the questions and let the commentariate find out where they fall.

    1. Well, they put Rand Paul as less economically conservative than the GOP in congress if that tells you anything. To me it says they don’t know what any of this means or who Rand Paul is.

      1. Maybe “conservative” = Big Gov Bush/Cheney/Romney types.

        1. Sure you wanna keep playing, shreek? The game’s always between you and getting called a cunt. That dropped eye of yours looks like the hood on a cunt to me, shreek. When you talk, your mouth looks like a cunt moving.

          1. You Team Red types will get a Jeb Bush or Huckabee and you will fucking like it, comprehend?

            1. Sometimes that Derptard, he looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a Derptard, he’s got… lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eye. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be livin’.

              1. You locked eyes with him, didn’t you.

                1. Yes. And he still wants cake. They all do.

      2. Yeah, that is what is confusing. If they mean conservative as big government Republicans, then economically the poles are the same. So centrists are the free market types? I’m so confused.

        1. You’re not confused, they’re stupid.

          1. At least it isn’t me this time.

      3. He is also more conservative than Clinton or Obama on social issues?


        They support the NSA. That alone puts them in the far right.

        1. Oh, Rand Paul is more socially conservative than Clinton and Obama, but I doubt Christie is too his left.

          And the average GOP member in Congress is more fiscally conservative than the most fiscally conservative member of Congress? I don’t think that is mathematically possible. (Unless they think Congress is just the House of Representatives, which it isn’t, which still wouldn’t be accurate.)

        2. It’s almost like everything doesn’t fit into these nice binary categories. I’m betting a majority of these people get their info about Paul and others from Slate or HuffPo.

  4. Why are we even going after this idiot demographic?

    1. Because they are closer to the libertarian ideology than progressives or socons? Bear with me. If the gen Y are already ok with people doing what they want with their own body that is 1/2 the fight. If they are just skeptical of a government controlled economy, it is a short walk to a free market. I’m not optimistic about the future, that is why I don’t have kids, but if you want to try to mold the future in a more libertarian way these keedz might be reachable.

      1. If the gen Y are already ok with people doing what they want with their own body that is 1/2 the fight.

        Not really, they’re OK with it, but want a third party to pay for it as well.

        1. Still you don’t have to clear the hurdle of drugs are evil, gay sex is evil, so on. It is a starting point. Show them the boomers hung an albatross around their unborn necks with government programs and they might learn the lesson.

          1. …they might learn the lesson.

            Kill all Boomers?

            1. Repudiate the debt.

            2. It would be effective in reducing government outlays.

          2. Still you don’t have to clear the hurdle of drugs are evil, gay sex is evil, so on.

            No, instead you get the hurdle of guns are evil, “hate speech” is evil, so on.

            These are the imbeciles who had a VERY sizeable minority say they like socialism when only 16% could define what socialism is. Everything I’ve seen from this poll tells me they want big government, just at someone else’s expense.

            1. I’m not sure guns are an issue with gen y. Then again I live in Florida where we have 800000 ccw permits so I might have a skewed view.

              1. My impression from the ones I’ve talked to (granted, I live in NYC, so my view might be skewed as well) is that they have guns on their “icky stuff” list. And it kind of gets to my point. Millenials strike me as just as eager and willing to ban things they consider “icky” as the hardest line socon. They differ only on what makes the list. Remember, this is the generation that gave us “trigger warnings” and “check your privilege”.

            2. Also not knowing what socialism is is a teachable moment. Knowing what it is and wanting it good and hard is worse.

            3. Millenials are just the latest breed of paternalistic, authoritarian twits. They have no problem using the power of government to stomp out anything they disagree with. Look at the attitudes towards gay rights. That they believe there are gay rights, which somehow are independent of natural rights, should show just how intellectually vapid this generational cohort is.

              Coincidence does not equal correlation. Just because millenials and libertarians agree on some issues does not mean there is a libertarian shift in society. As in so many other cases, a broken clock is right twice a day. Millenials see government as the way to protect individual rights. They refuse to see this same government is responsible for some of the most egregious violators of individual rights.

  5. Millennials aren’t liberals; they are social liberals and fiscal centrists

    I first read that as fascist centrists and I thought that was a bit harsh.

    Also, I think Christie is closer to Obama on economis issues than that chart indicates.

  6. Look at that dirty far-right socon Rand Paul, so far to the right of Hillary Clinton. If only the Republicans had more moderates like Christie, then the GOP would really go places.

  7. Pollmageddon


    Poll the other one

    Poll dancing


    Running up the flagpoll

    1. Killing Me Softly With His Poll

      Polls Along The Watchtower

      Don’t Poll the Reaper

      Pollin’ Through The Jungle

      1. Can’t You Hear Me Pollin’

        1. Rock and Poll Hoochie Koo

          1. Talkin’ ’bout m’llenyal gen-er-a–tion…

        2. They see me pollin’, they hatin’, patrolling and tryin’ ta catch me ridin’ dirty

  8. Generational collectivism is possibly one of the stupidest collectivisms people engage in. Sigh.

    1. That and REGION WARZ!!1!!!

    2. Yeah, it’s basically a less refined version of astrology.

  9. Now, I believe a social liberal is someone who would force employers to give birth control to their employees in lieu of a raise, and bake Bert and Ernie cakes for gay couples who demand it.

    Not social *libertarians.*

    1. I think in the true sense of the word, liberals would be aghast at forcing anyone to bake a cake for someone else or to buy their birth control.

      1. Real liberals ought to be like that, but we go to the polls with the liberals we have, not the liberals we wish to have 🙁

      2. Liberal vs progressive.

        People need to stop using the terms interchangeably.

        1. That’s why I use leftists.

          1. That covers both. But there is a huge split on certain issues between liberals and progressives.

            1. I refuse to honor their regressive ideas with the moniker “progressive”. It is abjectly absurd. They oppose progress at almost every turn. Their ideas are not only old, but have failed spectacularly every single time that have been tried.

              The term “progressive” is illiberal. It claims, without basis, that the so named person favors progress and his opponents oppose progress. Arguments of fact or reason are not necessary when you declare yourself winner before any discussion has even taken place.

              1. The original progressive movement was based on the idea that the state is the engine of progress.

                Pretty fascist, IOW. And a completely accurate description of the current crop of self-identified progressive and liberals.

                Call ’em all progs. Its who they are.

  10. Over in the other thread, we were told that 49% of millenials “strongly” self-identify as fiscal liberals. So 1 in 2 are socialists, and the others range from strong social democratic to weak social democratic?

    Not exactly screaming “fiscal centrist” to me.

  11. Yawn. As an older student finishing a degree, I deal with this demographic on a daily basis.

    The majority of the ones I’ve met are fucking stupid.

    To those who desire to be a Top Man: you’ll probably have an easy time with this generation.

  12. Millennials, Millennials, Millennials. It’s always Millennials. What about MY feelings?

    1. Born too late for the awesome parties in the 60’s and 70’s. Born too soon for Reason to ever poll me.

  13. This is where the oversimplified, libertarian = social liberal + economic conservative idea falls apart. Socially liberal in the context of these poll results doesn’t mean socially tolerant, which is probably a better descriptor of libertarians. Rather, it means supporting certain favored groups and, at the very least, shunning the disfavored. If social issues really are the major driver for millennials, I don’t think that bodes well for libertarians. The results of economic views are more encouraging, though.

    1. Agreed on all counts.

    2. Agreed. That is why I say libertarian = social libertarian + economic libertarian.

    3. I thought socially liberal meant gay marriage and free birth control / abortions for all.

  14. We need a poll on who actually gives a fuck about what millenials think.

  15. So expecting the government to guarantee medical care, food and housing is *CENTRIST*?!
    Lenin will rise from the grave!

    1. For the poor, at least, it’s not even centrist. It’s just the default assumption for a loooooot of people. But I’m also not sure that that falls under the umbrella of fiscal or economic issues for most people. I suspect that has more to do with regulations and taxes.

    2. Same thing I have been saying since this poll came out Sevo. Millenials are not the wave of future libertarians Reason (apparently) wishes they were.

  16. You don’t say?

  17. I would think they are more liberal on social issues then Obama is.

    Obama opposes legalization of pot and opposed gay marriage for the first 4 to 5 years of his presidency and he has not been very good on immigration.

    I think that chart puts Obama far to left as a social liberal and far to right on economics.

  18. there is a cluster on the diagonal.

    The funny thing is, when I have seen nolan charts done on college campuses (admittedly, 25 years ago), there was clustering on the diagonal, but it was the opposite one.

    1. You were probably looking at the chart in a mirror.

  19. The problem is that being a “social liberal” means you support all sorts of high-dollar government programs.

    When the fiscal conservatives/centrists ask for cuts to social liberal programs, the so-called social liberal/fiscal conservative inevitably discovers that their social liberalism wins out.

    So the whole “social liberal/fiscal conservative” thing is a sham. Those people are never fiscal conservatives in practice. Which means they are liberal, and the “social” modifier raises the specter of “social justice”. And we know where they leads.

    1. The Road to Hell?

    2. yup

  20. Most of the socially liberal ones who say they lean fiscally conservative want me to pay for their birth control and college loan.

  21. “Millennia’s Are Social Liberals, Fiscal Centrists”

    A.K.A. Idiots due to brainwashing from public and “hi-er” education.

  22. The problem with the Millennial’s is not that the Republicans will allow them to live their lives as they please, it’s that the Republicans won’t kiss their arses in celebrating their life-style choices.
    Too Bad!

  23. Yay, cluster analysis!

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