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How to Win Millenials: Equality, Climate Change, and Gay Marriage


Two months ago, Derek Thompson walked readers through the results of a huge new survey by the Pew Research Center on Millennials and their attitudes and opinions. As he noted, this generation, roughly defined as people between the ages of 18 and 33, is the object of almost obsessive levels of scrutiny and observation.

Now, another new survey—this one from Harstad Strategic Research, Inc.—adds to what we’re learning about Millennials, especially their views on political issues. That’s important, because this generational cohort now accounts for about one-fourth of the voting age population—a voting bloc even larger than senior citizens.

Harstad, a firm that mostly conducts surveys for Democrats (including Barack Obama), conducted the poll in March and April for the Youth Engagement Fund and Project New America. You can see the survey instrument itself, along with results and an explanation of the methodologyhere. The results are presented in graphic form here.

One big takeaway is that Millennials are strongly supportive of governmental intervention in society on a wide array of issues:

Harstad Strategic Research, Inc.

A different question produced similarly strong opinions about their preferred role for government:

The survey also suggests Millennials place a high value on equality. Respondents were given a list of values and asked, “Which TWO are most important given the challenges we face as a country?” This bar chart shows the percentage citing each value in response, with equality and economic opportunity mentioned by the largest percentage of respondents. Perhaps unsurprisingly, respondents who identified themselves as Democrats prioritized equality and opportunity while self-identified Republicans ranked personal responsibility and accountability higher:

The poll results show Millennials to be overwhelmingly supportive of progressive policies that promote opportunity and economic security:

According to this poll, members of Generation Y are overwhelmingly progressive on key issues like gun safety, climate change and renewable energy, and access to abortion:


Although Millennials are lopsidedly progressive in their views, there is still a fair amount of variety in their views, based partly on their demographic and life-situation characteristics. The pollsters used the results to develop seven different attitudinal clusters or segments among Millennials:

The analysts explain those attitudinal clusters this way:

The poll also tried to measure what kinds of issue-related messages especially resonate with Millennials. The survey instrument presented respondents with paragraph-length position statements that potential congressional candidates might take. Respondents were asked to say how persuasive they found such a position. (The statements below are much-abbreviated summaries of those position statements.) The results show that if Democrats are looking to maximize their support among Millennials, issues of economic opportunity and pocketbook security are the ones to emphasize:

But Republican candidates won’t have much to fear from this portion of the electorate if Democratic campaigns cannot get these voters to register and turn out to vote. Twenty-six percent of Millennial respondents report that they have not registered to vote:

And while a slim majority of Millennial voters claim they are certain to vote in the 2016 election, they report that the likelihood of their turning out to vote in the midterm elections is much, much lower:

As noted at the outset, interest in the political attitudes of Millennials is nearly obsessive. In addition to the mammoth Pew Research poll mentioned above, yet another survey of Millennials and their political attitudes was released this spring by Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Although it is not easy to make direct comparisons across polls (most obviously, because of differently worded questions and other methodological issues), it’s worth noting some general points of similarity, as well as some differences, emerging from each of these big surveys:

  • Although all three polls see Millennials as more aligned with Democrats on political issues, the Pew survey found that 50 percent describe themselves as political independents, compared with 38 percent in the IOP poll.
  • All three polls found high levels of support for same-sex marriage and legalization of marijuana.
  • High levels of student debt emerged as a prominent concern in all three polls.
  • Despite facing economic hardships (like high student debt and a tough economy), respondents in all three polls report high levels of optimism about their economic futures.

In general, both the Pew poll and the IOP survey were much more ambitious and more comprehensive than the Harstad poll—and, at least in my view, used preferable polling methods.

But the Harstad survey, commissioned by organizations that have overt political agendas, offers something interesting the other two polls lack. Because the researchers were tasked, in part, with finding out how particular political messages resonate with Millennials, their results give us an especially illuminating window into the strategies that progressive Democratic organizations and candidates may use this fall to win support from this important electoral bloc.


This piece originally appeared at

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Bill Kristol Should Be Ashamed of Himself

Oh, yes. You already knew that, you say. The evidence for that is abundant, you say. Quite true. But are you aware of his latest foray into McCarthy-land? His latest round of smearing people with a label of anti-Semitism?  See here. The man should be ashamed of himself. He has no honor, no decency.

Ignorant Americans

Via The Political Carnival:

First things first: Let’s be clear, ignorant does not mean stupid. People often confuse the two. Ignorance is alack of knowledge, learning, information, etc. Stupid is a lack of normal intelligence.

Now that that’s settled, I am very much concerned with the ignorance of so many Americans. This may come from a minimum of interest, time, resources, or the inability to research, read, or access any media whatsoever. Maybe people don’t ever, ever use their computers to learn about issues or bother to open a newspaper.

And yes, I’m being a little facetious.

Maybe they do read, but fail to catch up on the news on a regular basis. Maybe they’re apathetic. Or lazy. Or gullible. Or afraid they won’t be able to process what they’re seeing and hearing. Or maybe they don’t understand what they’re hearing. Or perhaps their only source of news is Fox, which has proved itself to be a propaganda network, not a reliable source for hard news.

Whatever the reason, it saddens and infuriates me. We’re coming up on another presidential election, and people who will actually go to the polls and vote still don’t seem to understand, say, President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Here’s a headline I just ran across:

Large Majority Want Health Care Law Overturned

The breakdown: 41% of those surveyed said the court should strike down the entire law, and another 27% said the justices should overturn only the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.

Do these people know what’s in the law or how it works, why the mandate is in there, or how lives will change if the law is repealed? Because other polls show that once they do, once it’s broken down and polled component by component (“Do you approve of the part where your kids get to stay on your plan until they turn 26?” or “Do you approve of the part where you can be covered despite your pre-existing medical conditions?”), suddenly it dawns on them that they kind of like it.

And how about the people in Wisconsin who voted against their own self-interests? What did they not know?

Or how about those relentless birthers? Or voters who just know that President Obama is a Muslim while criticizing his attending services at the largest church affiliated with the United Church of Christ (because they disapprove of the pastor)?

Unfortunately, there are some people who, despite easy access to all kinds of information, will still believe what they want to believe, will never be convinced otherwise, and will continue to thrive on oblivion and assumption instead of knowledge and instruction. Evidence schmevidence.

Democrats lose elections when voters are uninformed and/or misinformed, when they’re ignorant of the facts, of the full story, of who the candidates are, of how our election system works, of how to register to vote, of basic civics, etc.

And the saddest part of this is that Republicans like it that way. Low information voters are their primary targets.



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Further Proof That More Political Paralysis Lies Ahead

As we await news of today's results in the Wisconsin election that will decide Governor Scott Walker's political fate, let's ponder the latest confirmation of just how polarized the U.S. has become politically in recent years.  Take a look at these results from a report issued by the Pew Research Center, showing the widening differences in political values between Democrats and Republicans:

And if you don't feel like reading the report itself, here's a short take on it by the Washington Post's Don Balz.

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Show Some Leadership, Mr. President!

What can one say?  Obama is a disappointment in so many ways.  For sure, he has been thwarted and blocked at every turn by cynical, grotesquely partisan Republicans who care not at all about the national interest. Republicans in Congress are among the most vile people on Earth. (How's THAT for moderate commentary?!)

But it's also true that Obama has failed to show the sort of leadership that so many of us expected of him.  Here is an interesting column in today's New York Times by Tom Friedman that makes a good argument to this effect.  (Please note that my typical reaction to Friedman is that he is a totally arrogant, Gingrichian — i.e., faux intellectual –  asshole who thinks he is god's gift to mankind, and I usually dismiss his putrid spooge.)  But he makes sense here. 

Also, see this rant by Chris Matthews (the MSNBC asshole whose arrogance is at least as bad as Gingrich's and Friedman's).  He actually makes sense here, too.

Republican Nonsense


© Tom Toles

Iron Knee elaborates:

Republicans, who voted against every single bill that Obama came up with to help jumpstart the economy, spent their debate last night attacking Obama for not doing enough about the economy. But their only answer is lower taxes, which ignores the fact that one third of the cost of Obama’s stimulus bill (which they opposed and now attack) was to lower taxes, and the fact that taxes right now are the lowest they have been in 60 years, yet the economy continues to go into the toilet. Oh, they also want decreased regulation, even though it was decreased regulation of banks that triggered the economic collapse in the first place. They also complained about the deficit, even though Republicans have done far more to run up the deficit than Democrats.

Why does anyone listen to them when they trot out their old, tired answers that clearly have not worked? I would love it for some Republican to suggest something new, but they all seem to be part of the Borg collective. As First Read puts it:

The other big loser of the night was a serious, substantive discussion on the economy. After spending the last few weeks criticizing the Obama administration on this subject, not a single GOP presidential candidate offered a convincing plan on how to create jobs. We heard plenty about lower taxes and less regulation. The problem: Taxes are already at their lowest level since the 1950, and that hasn’t really jump-started the economy. Moreover, there was little regulation during the Bush administration, and that didn’t produce a wave of jobs between 2001 and 2009.

Richard Shelby: Good Example of What’s Wrong with America

ShelbyIf you don't already know why Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) is the epitome of what is wrong with American politics and government these days, see this post by Jim Fallows today. 

Shame on Shelby.  And shame on all of us Americans for letting this sort of pathological idiocy cripple our system of government.