Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Social Issues, Not Economics, Largely Define Political Labels for Millennials


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

Compared to Americans over 30, millennials are half as likely to identify as politically conservative (14% to 34%), and nearly twice as likely to say they're liberal (25% to 14%). The latest Reason-Rupe study of millennials finds their political ideologies may largely be an expression of their social and cultural values more than their economic policy preferences. In fact their social values are what draws them closer to President Obama, more than their economic policy preferences.

Overall, 30 percent of millennials say they are moderate, 25 percent liberal, 14 percent conservative, 7 percent libertarian, 7 percent progressive, and 17 percent say they are "something else."

Does Liberal Mean "Liberal"?

The fact that millennials are so much more comfortable using the liberal label and less willing to use the conservative one raises several questions. Does the word "liberal" mean something different to millennials than older cohorts? Does it convey liberal policy preferences across both social and economic issues?

It appears that liberal millennials do distinguish between social and economic liberalism: 67 percent indicate they are strong social liberals while only 49 percent say they are strong economic liberals. In fact, when liberal millennials used their own words to explain why they are liberal, only 32 percent mentioned both economic and social issues. Fully a third (33%) only described their liberal label based on social tolerance, inclusivity, and personal freedom.

Ideology in Their Own Words

To better understand what these political labels mean to millennials, they were asked to use their own words to explain why they describe themselves as a liberal, moderate, conservative, libertarian, or progressive. The results indicate that social issues largely define these terms, particularly for liberal millennials.

Coding millennials' responses reveals that for most liberal and progressive millennials, their ideological label primarily reflects social liberalism, not necessarily economic liberalism. Overall, 68 percent of self-identified liberals' explanations mentioned elements of social tolerance and personal freedom, while only 35 percent mentioned economics. Progressives were similar on social issues (64%), but more mentioned economics (47%).

Conservative millennials are considerably less likely than liberals to rely on social matters to define their label. Instead, conservatives' affiliation equally conveys their views on both economics (41%) and social issues (41%). For libertarians, economic conservatism (67%) as well as social liberalism (48%) define libertarians' label. Among all millennials, 37 percent mentioned something about social issues and 27 percent mentioned economics. (More found here).

To read a selection of millennials actual responses, click through the following slideshow:

A more in-depth analysis of their responses can be found here.

Download the PDF

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

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  1. Run! It’s Pollzilla!

  2. Social issues lead to economic issues, one way or another.

    1. It’s not like someone would ever be forced to bake a gay wedding cake…

  3. That is one moldy bagel.

    1. As long as you’ll provide a moldy bagel to gay, pot-smoking, Mexican immigrants as well as others, it’s all good.

    2. This is amazing. Start working at home with Google. It’s a great work at home opportunity. Just work for few hours. I earn up to $100 a day. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out

  4. But what do Millenials think about this?

    1. if we poll the polls, who will poll the pollsters?

      1. It’s polls all the way down

        1. Or hamsters.

  5. Millenials, aliens from another planet.

    1. Youth is wasted on the young.

      1. That never made sense to me. Then I turned 50, and it was too late.

        1. It made sense to me round 35 years of age.

          1. I must have retained my youthful enthusiasm and boyish charm a little longer than you.

            1. I got a desk job and found it much more difficult to stay in shape.

      2. Being one, I was trying to imply we are not idiots for unknown reasons.

        Rather, we were taught to be stupid.

        1. another reason for the abolishing public education

          1. I’m with you. I am doing my part by planning to homeschool my children.

    2. I now have scientific backup for a casual observation I made elsewhere:

      1- Millennials see no connection between their government-induced misery and their voting habits,

      2 – EXCEPT on the social issues, which trump all.

      The same can be said of female voters. I don’t have the scientific backup for that yet, though.

  6. They may come to understand economic issues are important. They are the ones getting the shaft as far as high taxed, scarce jobs, huge national deficit, etc. And the mega-depression and hyper-inflation haven’t even kicked in yet.

    1. give them time. There is a natural evolution involved in going from wide-eyed idealist to learning that it’s your money being wasted.

    2. Most of them remember the financial collapse of 2008 and on that even Fox News cannot blame Obama.

      1. If you get bored at work:


        1. What is that? Some bullshit blaming Barney Frank for blocking something that never happened? Only in wingnut land can a House member block something from a majority party.

          1. Only in liberal utopia can a progressive act like something that happened really didn’t.

            Being head of the House Banking Committee means a member ( and Frank is a member and always will be a member ) has a lot of power to block what he doesn’t like coming to a vote.

            1. We’ve been over this with him several times, including links to contemporaneous accounts showing exactly what you describe. But it’s lost on PB because he’s a coke-addled loon yelling at a wall.

              1. I know but I had some time to kill and it’s fun to watch him flip out sometimes and you never know when he will get his sock puppets mixed up.

            2. You’re full of shit. There are no filibusters in the House. There are no blocks at all.

              1. Men of straw burn bright.

              2. Palin’s Buttplug|7.17.14 @ 11:32AM|#

                You’re full of shit. There are no filibusters in the House. There are no blocks at all.”

                Oh look over there…. TWO Squirrels doing it ! ( heh heh heh..that oughta distract’em )

                Are you trying to suggest that filibusters are the only way to prevent legislation from being voted on Buttplug ?

                If so then tell us why Committee Chairmanships are so sought after ?

                Don’t get your panties in a bunch and forget which sock puppet is talking Buttplug.

              3. Palin’s Buttplug|7.17.14 @ 11:32AM|#

                You’re full of shit. There are no filibusters in the House. There are no blocks at all.”

                Since I never said he was I suppose you must have been responding to those voices in your head.

                Here are some 2003 words of wisdom from Barney.

                ” As ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank blocked tightened oversight over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying in 2003, “These two entities ? are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” and, “I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing.” More than any other factor, the 2008 financial meltdown was caused by pushing these government-sponsored enterprises to encourage housing loans to risky borrowers. ”


                1. Buttplug can you read the part aloud that says what Barnee Fwank did in 2003 ?

                  Read it out loud now Butty so you can remember it better. He BLOCKED tighter oversite of Freddie and Fannie. Something you say can’t be done. Is Barnee Fwank magic Buttplug ?

                  History is a bitch when it doesn’t fit your narrative, huh Buttplug ?

            3. Barney Frank was never head of the House Banking Committee during the Housing Bubble, you dumbass.

              He was in 2007-08 when it was too late to do anything.

      2. But they honestly can blame the lack of recovery on his economic illiteracy and hubris that prevents listening to sound council.

        The real estate bubble falls on these shoulders.

        The derp starts at the 30 second mark.

        1. Bush proved tax cuts don’t create jobs.


          Yet Obama cut taxes anyway.

          1. Yet Obama cut taxes anyway.

            1. Enact several new taxes to fund your terrible health care plan.
            2. Raise the top marginal rate my 4.6 percentage points.
            3. Cancel a planned increase in taxes in lower brackets.
            4. ?????
            5. Derp.

          2. “Palin’s Buttplug|7.17.14 @ 10:49AM|#

            Bush proved tax cuts don’t create jobs.”

            Hey look !! a Squirrel !!

            Is that your best shot Buttplug ?

            Maybe if you close your eyes, repeat it over and over while clicking your heels, it will become your personal reality.

            A few years ago that tactic worked Buttplug, but youtube kind of put a dent in Liberal Revisionist History.

          3. And Barry proved that stimulus doesn’t stimulate.



          4. “Boooosh. Booosh. Booosh bad.

            Obama good.”

            Buttplg circa 20014 and counting.

  7. Wait, Reason polled millenials? Why is this the first I’m hearing of it?

    1. Is this really something new? That old line supposedly from Winston Churchill that goes something like “if you’re not a liberal at 20 you have not heart, if you’re not a conservative at 40 you have no brain” was uttered in the 1930’s.

      Emily is acting like a typical millennial–completely self-absorbed and obsessing over what her peers think.

      1. Uh, that’s her job

        1. don’t him, he’s on a roll

      2. What’s she supposed to write: that she’s bored with this assignment?

  8. This is nothing new. I was fiscally conservative as soon as I saw the deductions from my first paycheck at 16, but even while GHWB was running for president I felt uncomfortable with the “family values” and “thousand points of light” stuff.

    The difference now is that there’s The Internet to bring people like that together.

    1. Maybe there is an effect here of delaying adulthood. You saw the bite government takes out of your paycheck at 16, but now childhood lasts until 26. That’s a full decade of naivete before reality sets in.

    2. Literally this.

      “They’re withholding HOW MUCH??!!”

      Instant libertarian

      1. It’s funny how acclimated we’ve become to the government taking a chunk of every penny we earn. Anytime we fantasize about what we would do if we won the powerball, someone always says something like, that $100 millinon would only be $60 million after taxes. Because, of course, YOU don’t get to keep it all.

      2. Most people don’t even look at their pay stub now though.

        As evident when they file, as long as they get something back it’s all good.

        1. I always end up owing the state ~$400 (the wife’s school district’s contributions to the pension fund in her name are taxable but not withheld) and getting a token amount back from the Feds to avoid her bitching. But most people I know don’t even bother calculating their withholdings, as evidenced by the huge windfall they get every April.

          Taking the time to understand how much the government is stealing from them? That time is better spent arguing about how much some obscure band sucks and posting pictures of dinner.

          1. Have her fill out W-4 form(or whatever your state makes you fill out for withholding) with the “extra withholding” box filled in with a suitable figure (an extra $8 a week). Some people like to get the “huge windfall” in April (myself included). It keeps it out of my grubby hands so I can’t spend it. (I know, not smart, I could be getting interest or investment income but I’m too fucking irresponsible).

            1. Oh, I know how to avoid it. But I have no plans on lending the state that money when I can get a cool 0.05% letting Chase hold onto it instead.

  9. Fuck the Millenials.

    1. Just the slender blondes.

      1. I like buxom Burnetts myself. Maybe we should do a pole.

        1. I’ll take the gingers.

        2. +1 Cheryl Burke (when she was “fat”)

      2. I’ll take the full figured Hispanics.

        1. I didn’t know Justice Sotomayor was a Millenial!

          1. She is overflowing.

          2. All rise.

  10. Okay. I am a millennial. Ask me anything.

    1. If I were driving at the speed of light and turned on my headlights, would anything happen?

      /Steven Wright

      1. You can’t drive at the speed of light.

      2. But if you were going very nearly the speed of light there would be no observable bizarre effects.

        1. From his reference frame.

    2. Does your mom know your gay?

      1. Not yet. It’s unlikely to come up.

      2. What about his gay?

        1. My betta fish is gay. This has been covered ad nauseam.

          1. If both fishes are beta how do they determine the top and the bottom?

    3. Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?

      1. Yes, but they should feel very guilty about it.

        1. I thought it was only if instead of being shaped like animals, they were shaped like crippled Cambodian orphans. And also made from dead orphans who died working our diamond mines.

    4. Do you look forward to collecting Social Security?

      1. That’s actually a good question that I wonder if Emily ever thought about. Speaking for myself I am incredibly pessimistic about receiving any meaningful medicare or social security. I would imagine most people my age are at least somewhat pessimistic too. Antipathy toward the elderly will pick up over the next few decades, but as long as millennials can remain politically disaffected hopey-dreamers I doubt much will change.

        This millennial poll has been stunningly uninspiring. But talking in generalizations about generations is a shortcut to a popular “kids these days” story.

        1. Second that.

        2. Maybe you should try voting for people that want to keep the program intact instead of people that want to dismantle the program because they read a little too much Ayn rand in high school.

          1. Yes, just what we need is more of the type of people who implement unsustainable programs built on generational theft, supported by nothing more than the barrel of a gun. It’s inherent unsustainability is the reason we don’t expect anything out of it. Dismantling it would enable us to get actual returns on our dollars instead of throwing it into a money pit.

    5. What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

      1. Don’t pretend like you don’t already know.

      2. European or African swallow ?

        1. thank you

          1. Maybe we should do a poll to see what percentage of millenials have watched Monty Python.

  11. Yeah, they don’t care about econ so long as Momm (oops) the government gives ’em free shit.

    1. Aargh! I hate millennials too! Can ‘t they see that the way they can get rich is to give MOAR tax breaks to top men trading securities online with other top men and top computers. That’s the proper way to run an economy. Millenialz are stupid.

      1. Venezuela is only days away from abundance for all. Days!

  12. It appears that liberal millennials do distinguish between social and economic liberalism: 67 percent indicate they are strong social liberals while only 49 percent say they are strong economic liberals.

    “Only” 49%.

    Only 49% of voters elected Obama into office in 2012.

    Only 49% of Sunnis believe in subjugating their religious antagonists.

    Only 49% of people believe that ObamaCare was a horrible policy.


    1. 8% of “Muricans think Obamacare should be left alone.

  13. What does economic policy have to do with the government providing free marijuana, condoms and gay marriages?

    1. In my experience, people my age are hardcore anti-capitalists until it involves their own economic activity.

      1. Isn’t subjectivism such a winning philosophy?


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