Young Americans want progress

An encouraging new poll released today by the New York Times/CBS News/MTV found that younger Americans are more liberal than the general public. The Times poll closely echoes most of the main points of the report NDN's New Politics Institute released last week, entitled The Progressive Politics of the Millennial Generation (which Future Majority encourages readers to make "your Bible for talking about young people in politics.")

Some of the new poll's findings about young people include:

  • 28% describe themselves as liberal, while only 20% of the whole American public does
  • 44% support same-sex marriage, compared to 28% of the general public
  • 62% support government-sponsored universal healthcare coverage, compared to 47% of the public
  • They are more likely to favor a common-sense drug policy, being more inclined than the general public to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
  • They are more open to immigration than the general public, with 30% saying America should always welcome new immigrants, compared to 24% of the general public.

The most striking part of the report, however, was this:

"By a 52 to 36 majority, young Americans say that Democrats, rather than Republicans, come closer to sharing their moral values, while 58 percent said they had a favorable view of the Democratic Party, and 38 percent said they had a favorable view of Republicans.

Asked if they were enthusiastic about any of the candidates running for president, 18 percent named Mr. Obama, of Illinois, and 17 percent named Mrs. Clinton, of New York. Those two were followed by Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican, who was named by just 4 percent of the respondents."

Contrary to popular opinion, the Millennial generation is not politically cynical or apathetic: again reinforcing the findings of our NPI report, the Times found that 77% of Millennials believe their generation will have an important effect in the next presidential election, and 58% already say they are paying attention to the 2008 election (compared to 35% of 17-to-29 year olds at the same point in the last election).

Their lack of cynicism is frankly surprising, given that they have come of age in a political climate defined by unprecedented corruption and corporate influence, headed by perhaps the worst president and most hubristic vice-president in the history of our nation. But their optimism is very good news for America, because a full "70 percent said the country was on the wrong track." And to paraphrase Socrates, realizing there is a problem is half the solution.