Millennials are not the left-wing zealots frequently portrayed in the media and feverishly imagined by liberal activists and Democratic politicians.
They are actually more conservative at their age than Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, according to new research by San Diego State University and Florida Atlantic University psychology professors.
SDSU’s Jean Twenge tells CNN:
“High school seniors are more likely to identify as political conservatives now compared to 10 years ago. Most surprising, more identify as conservatives now compared to the 1980s, presumably the era of the young conservative, such as the character Alex P. Keaton in the 1980s show ‘Family Ties.’ That goes against the common view of millennials as very liberal,” said Twenge, author of the book about millennials titled “Generation Me.”
“So the current view of millennials as liberals might be due to their age — young people are more likely to be liberal. But if you compare young people now to young people in previous decades, those now are more conservative,” she said.
The research, which reviewed 45 years of studies on 10 million Americans, finds that political polarization has grown even though “Americans are not polarized on the vast majority of issues” when asked about specific issues, according to Florida Atlantic co-author Ryne Sherman.
And millennials lead previous generations in polarization, with only 47 percent describing themselves as “middle-of-the-road.” At the same time, they have the highest percentage of self-identified political independents at 59 percent.
The research is published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.