Poll: Millennials Would Throw All Incumbent Politicians Out of Office


Millennials disapprove of both major parties and reject politics as the solution to America's problems. That is the finding of a new poll conducted by the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard University.

The national survey of Americans aged 18–29 found that millennials blame Republicns and Democrats alike for the current state of American politics, with 53 percent saying they would recall and replace all members of Congress.

This hostility toward sitting politicians can be explained by who millennials think these politicians represent. When asked about their own member of Congress, only 10 percent said they thought their congressmen mostly represented their constituents. In contrast, 33 percent thought they mostly represented themselves, 27 percent thought they mostly represented campaign donors, and 25 percent thought they mostly represented their political party.

This reinforces what the Reason-Rupe poll found earlier this year—that millennial voters are more independent than previous generations and less attracted to the partisan politics that is epitomized by Washinton, D.C.

The hostility toward Washington-style partisanship is further highlighted by the IOP poll's finding that only 39 percent of respondents would be "likely" (with 57 percent being "unlikely") to agree to attend a political rally or demonstration, even if they agreed with the issue and had free time. This number fell even more to 33 percent when asked whether they would be "likely" to volunteer for a political campaign.

This political apathy should not be seen as a negative. A less political America is a less divided America, and millennials are by no means disengaged with their communities. When asked if they would agree to volunteer for community service (assuming they thought it was a worthy cause), nearly seven in ten said they would be "likely" to do so.

This suggests that millennials see an alternative to futile attempts to impose rigid political solutions that will inevitably be compromised by the horse-trading and rent seeking that is endemic in Washington, D.C. Instead, they would prefer to tackle America's problems at a more local level and in a more hands on way. This is surely an encouraging sign for libertarians.

Read more of Reason's coverage of on Millennials

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  1. I’ve gotta say that I don’t believe millennials are anti-government. Sure, they hate both parties. Most people do to some extent. Even true believers get pissed about some stuff. But are they libertarians? Sure doesn’t seem like it anywhere but in these polls.

    1. Most of the people I know are not. Of course, that’s only anecdotal, so you can take it with a grain of salt.

      In any case, it would be interesting to see the actual volunteer participation rate among peers in my generation. I’m also not sure if ceding political influence is really an unmitigated good. Politics is not very palatable to many, but if you take yourself out of the game completely then I fear unsavory characters will wield even more influence.

      1. I fear unsavory characters will wield even more influence.

        Too late.

        1. I’m pretty sure it can get worse, but I understand your point.

    2. Its tough to tell. I’m in the state/university orbit. Most people here are either ticks firmly invested on keeping the government fat or academics with a tendency towards authoritarianism in any age distribution.

    3. The atitude should be that maybe they can be made to be more libertarian. But that won’t happen by being defeatist.

  2. “Millennials, Poll”

    Has Reason ever combined these two things before?????

    1. We’re a group that is often ignored by Reason and the powers that be. I’d reckon that we’re the new White Christian male.

      1. This sarcasm fails because Reason doesnt actually employ many white christian males.

        1. I meant to suggest that we are a marginalized group in a general sense. Obviously, you recognize that I wasn’t being serious though.

          1. All religions SHOULD be marginalized.

  3. This suggests that millennials see an alternative to futile attempts to impose rigid political solutions…

    Retreating into social media?

    1. They have an illusion and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.

      1. Nearly 50 years later and the quotes are still recognizable. God Bless the Great Bird of the Galaxy!

    2. Apathy is an improvement over drinking the Kool aid.

  4. IIRC, a poll from earlier this year found that a considerable majority of Americans of all demographics favored voting out every incumbent in congress. Look at how they actually vote. Revealed preference is a lot more instructive than stated preference.

  5. All these polls are very nice. I mean that. It gives me some level of hope. But all of this is meaningless unless there is a concerted effort and strategy for libertarians to go out and connect with Millenials. You can be damn sure the major parties and more influential ideologies will do so.

    I for one would like to see more from Reason on how to take advantage of these attitudes.

  6. Maybe it’s a regional thing that I’m experiencing, but we’re just as polarized as any other age bracket. There’s nothing inherently different about the up-and-coming demographic.

    1. That is probably pretty accurate. You can be a hard core prog or a social conservative or a hard core ancap and still say you want every incumbent thrown out of office. All three might agree with the anti incumbent sentiment but they don’t agree on anything else.

      Big government has fucking young people in this country just like it fucked young people in Europe. That only results in things getting better if young people understand who and how they got screwed so badly. This cynicism has to translate into a general maturation and turning away from government and toward self reliance and not just a turning towards a new set of top men promising to make government work this time.

  7. That is a nice sentiment. It is not, however, necessarily a good sign for the country. Clearly young people feel betrayed by the current political class. They should feel that way and if they didn’t it would mean they are irrational and incapable of acting for their own interests.

    The problem is that it is unclear if they have the intellectual tools necessary to understand what is happening to them and why. A sense of betrayal and mistrust of a government is only a good thing if it leads to the electorate becoming wiser and demanding better solutions and that only happens if they have an understanding of the situation and how to fix it. If they don’t have that, they just because fodder for the next demagogue offering to throw the bums out and fix everything.

    I bet most of the German public in 1932 wanted to throw out every incumbent in the Wiemar government too. That didn’t turn out to be a very good thing, however.

    1. Yeah, alienation from the existing government is sometimes a sign of willingness to go for the next caudillo populist who promises to Do Something (TM).

      1. And alienation also leads to a feeling of powerlessness. Worse, feeling powerless is made even more intense when you can’t understand why things are happening to you.

        I worry about young people because we seem to have created in them a toxic stew of “self esteem”, economic and historical ignorance, combined with lack of opportunity and a sense of betrayal and alienation. That can sometimes be a recipe for very bad things.

  8. Puhleeze stop using that pic.

    1. I don’t really understand why people hate it so much.

      1. Because he looks like such a hipster. Hipsters are the most annoying people on earth. So annoying that even a picture of someone who resembles one is like nails on a chalkboard for most of humanity.

        1. Hipsters are the most annoying people on earth.

          In their defense, I think the Real Housewives of whatever take that prize.

          1. I don’t know. There are some people out there who have a MILF fetish. No one to my knowledge is sick enough to have a hipster fetish. I am unaware of any hipster porn sites, though in fairness I imagine the FBI would act pretty quickly to shut down a site that was that depraved.

        2. Hipsters are annoying, but they have their uses. They make good food and coffee, for example.

          At any rate, I think you bring up some good points below. But if you want to educate people and change their minds, you have see past the annoying qualities.

          1. A first step would be to shoot John Stewart and Steven Colbert. It is hard to think of two people this century who have sewn more ignorance among more people than those two.

            It amazes me how dishonest they are. They refuse to let their guests record or have copies of the unedited tapes of their appearances. The reason for that is that it allows the show to edit the interviews to ensure that every guest with a contrary view is made to look like an idiot and has no copy of the full appearance to show how they were unfairly edited. Anyone who agrees to appear on those shows is a fool.

            1. “sewn” – they’re tailors? Did you mean “sown”?

      2. It looks androgynous, as if they’re trying to tell us something related to male-female confusion…but they’re not, as least AFAICT.

  9. But are they libertarians? Sure doesn’t seem like it anywhere but in these polls.

    They have been brought in an environment (and not just in the schools) in which “They oughtta” is the default solution to any problem. “They” of course being The Wise Men in the Government.

    More and more, the old question, “Does a fish know it’s swimming?” pervades my thinking.

    If they truly want to sweep the place clean, good. But I cannot help wondering who they want as replacements; people who will pay proper tribute to the gods of Do-Somethingism, I suspect.

    1. Being alienated only does any good if you understand what to do about it. Like you, I don’t have a lot of confidence they do. Not that it is necessarily all their fault. What chance does anyone who came through that school system have of knowing anything or being able to interpret events in the world?

  10. See, they *would* vote these rascals out, but they are too busy getting their other hand tattooed and stroking their idiotically long beards and wearing spetznaz t-shirts.

  11. They reject “politics” but would move the “politiking” from DC to their local area?
    Do they not realize that “politics” is the way we come to agreement over different views of how things should be done and that the process is the same whether done in the neighborhood, or remotely?
    They dislike the way legislation is accomplished, but I’m sure they completely support sausage making.

  12. It’s not just millennials. Everyone would throw all incumbents out of office. Except their own.

  13. Those that are not thrown out of office should participate in lamp-post/rope assembly sessions.

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