Nav: Home

Americans are more politically independent, more polarized than ever

September 07, 2016

Today's young millennial voters are seen as a key demographic for political victory in many races this fall. Now, new research suggests that millennials' political views differ significantly from young people from previous generations.

A team led by San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge, author of the book "Generation Me," examined data from three large, nationally representative surveys of high school seniors, entering college students and adults in the United States administered since the 1970s. The surveys included responses to a variety of political questions from 10 million participants.

As of 2014, nearly half (46 percent) of adult Americans identified as political independents, including 59 percent of Millennials ages 18 to 29. Both of those numbers are all-time highs.

"Americans, especially young people, are abandoning the two major political parties to declare themselves politically independent," Twenge said. "In an increasingly individualistic culture, large groups such as political parties are less popular."

"Independent" doesn't necessarily translate into politically moderate, however. The researchers also found that political views have become more polarized in recent years, with twice as many adults in the 2010s describing themselves as either extremely liberal or conservative than adults in the early 1970s.

Those who do claim allegiance to one of the two major political parties in the United States are more homogenous in their views. Whereas there were once liberal and conservative members of both parties, today the vast majority of those who identify as Republicans hold conservative views and those who identify as Democrats hold liberal views, the study found. The researchers published their work in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

In recent years, there has also been an uptick in conservatism among young people. High school seniors in the 2010s were 38 percent more likely to identify as conservatives than their age-matched peers in the 1970s. That's surprising, Twenge said, because these same young people disagree with many traditionally conservative viewpoints, indicating a potential overhaul of the definition of conservatism.

"Given young people's support for same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana, it's surprising that more now identify as political conservatives," she says. "It may be that the definition of what they consider conservative is changing. Overall, Millennials may not be as reliably liberal and Democrat as many had predicted, especially as they are likely to grow more conservative as they get older."

San Diego State University

Related Millennials Articles:

Diets rich in polyunsaturated fats may alter appetite hormones among millennials
New published research shows millennials (ages 18-35) who regularly consume foods that contain polyunsaturated fats, such as walnuts, salmon and canola oil, may experience favorable changes in appetite hormones associated with hunger and satiety.
Method could speed up design of more eco-friendly fabric softeners
In the 1960s, the introduction of fabric softeners transformed rough, scratchy clothes into softer, more comfortable garments.
New study shows Americans are having sex less often
While the topic of sex is less taboo than it was a generation ago, that doesn't necessarily mean people are having more of it.
Study finds colorectal cancer rates have risen dramatically in Gen X and millennials
ACS investigators find that compared to people born around 1950, when colorectal cancer risk was lowest, those born in 1990 have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer.
Millennials in PR don't feel ready to give companies advice on moral dilemmas, study finds
Millennials pursuing careers in public relations don't feel ready to give advice on moral dilemmas to their companies.
Values gap in workplace can lead millennials to look elsewhere
Much has been made in popular culture about millennials as they join the working world, including their tendency to job hop.
Online daters ignore wish list when choosing a match
Despite having a 'wish list' stating their preference for potential ideal matches, most online daters contact people bearing no resemblance to the characteristics they say they want in a mate, according to QUT research.
Less driving linked to a decrease in roadway fatalities
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that a significant decrease in automobile travel from 2003-2014 correlated with a decrease in the number of crash deaths, with the largest reduction among young men.
Researchers examine millennial generation's learning preferences in medical education
The classroom can reflect its students' learning preferences, and a study published today in Mayo Clinic Proceedings demonstrates evidence of this in medical education.
Why scientists should research emojis and emoticons :-P
More than 90 percent of online populations now incorporate emojis and emoticons into their texts and emails, and researchers are wondering what the use of (~_^), (>_<), or =D can reveal about human behavior.

Related Millennials Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#532 A Class Conversation
This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems.