Have you added the word “millennials” yet to your Microsoft Word dictionary? My guess is that the researchers at Reason-Rupe have. Their newest study looks at how young Americans view government, public services, and politics. The results are not what you may have surmised from previous reports.
For starters, Reason-Rupe surveyed 2,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 29, and found that 66 percent believe government is inefficient and wasteful, a massive increase since five years ago when just 42 percent of millennials answered this question in the affirmative.
About 63 percent of millennials believe government regulators favor special interests, and only 18 percent feel regulators act in the general public’s best interest. Greater than half of millennials believe government agencies abuse their powers, and one quarter trust bureaucracies to do the right thing.
Most millennials want government bureaucracies to do less. For example, nearly three-quarters favor allowing private accounts for Social Security, and over half favor this policy even if it means cutting Social Security benefits for current and future retirees. About 53 percent say that Social Security is unlikely to exist when they retire, anyway.
About two-third of millennials believe that cutting government spending by 5 percent would help the economy; and 59 percent say that cutting taxes would help the economy. A full 57 percent prefer a smaller government that provides fewer services with lower taxes, while 41 percent prefer a larger government that provides more services with higher taxes. Similarly, 57 percent want a society where wealth is distributed according to achievement, and 55 percent believe that reducing regulations would help the economy.
That said… and here’s where things get tricky… about three-quarters of millennials say that government has a responsibility to guarantee every citizen has a place to sleep and enough to eat. Seventy one percent favor raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour; 68 percent say government should ensure everyone makes a living wage; 69 percent say that it is government’s responsibility to provide everyone with health insurance, and 51 percent view the Affordable Care Act favorably.
Once again in direct contradiction to previously stated beliefs, 66 percent of millennials say that raising taxes on the wealthy would help the economy, and 58 percent say that government should spend more on assistance to the poor even if it means higher taxes. Greater than half of millennials say that government should guarantee everyone a college education.
So, allow me to recap the irony: 57 percent prefer a smaller government that provides fewer services with lower taxes, AND… 58 percent say that government should spend more on assistance to the poor even if it means higher taxes. Another example: 59 percent say that cutting taxes would help the economy, AND… 66 percent of millennials say that raising taxes on the wealthy would help the economy.
Millennial attitudes on social issues are far less schizophrenic. A full 62 percent identify as socially liberal, compared with 49 percent who identify as economic liberals.
Over 70 percent believe that large sugary sodas and drinks should be allowed to be sold; 67 percent favor legalizing same-sex marriage; 61 percent are pro-choice; 60 percent support the right to smoke e-cigarettes in public places; 57 percent favor legalizing marijuana; and 52 percent say that there should be no legal drinking age or that it should be lower than age 21.
While some of these more libertarian-esque views may excite Republican operatives, don’t get ahead of yourselves just yet. In this poll, only 29 percent of millennials who plan to vote in the 2014 midterm elections intend to vote for a Republican. Over 50 percent of millennials identify as Independents and only 16 percent as Republicans.