In "Generation Independent" (page 22) Reason Foundation Polling Director Emily Ekins, joins reason.com Editor in Chief Nick Gillespie to discuss the July Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey, which focuses on millennials' political attitudes. It's the 14th poll she has conducted for the Reason Foundation since joining the organization in May 2011.
Ekins' work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Time, and Fox News. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles, and has performed quantitative analyses of the Tea Party movement for the Cato Institute. The Reason-Rupe polls stand out, she says, because unlike most other surveys they consistently ask respondents about trade-offs.
"Most polls present policy questions to respondents as if they are costless, benefits-only propositions," says Ekins, "and thus find inflated support for nearly every government program under the sun." For Ekins, 30, the goal of the Reason-Rupe poll is to ask the questions that other pollsters leave out. "We design our poll questions to at first match what other pollsters are doing, but then we ask follow-up questions to gauge how the public makes trade-offs."
What she often finds is that the tradeoffs make all the difference. "The truth is, Americans would be willing to pay more in taxes and make the necessary tradeoffs for the government to do some things," she says. "However, across a number of important issues they aren't willing to pay the price."