Young Voters Favor Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative Candidates


Personal Liberty Poll

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Young voters who align across the ideological spectrum seem to come together on one thing: most prefer political candidates who are fiscally conservative but socially liberal, despite the fact there aren’t very many Federal-level candidates who fit that description.

A Reason-Rupe survey released Thursday indicates that even though most young Americans who fall within the so-called “millennial” age demographic identify themselves as liberals or moderates, they’re far more likely to favor a conservative approach to fiscal matters. It’s the conservative approach to social issues, though, that seems to be the sticking point.

According to the survey, 53 percent of millennials said they would favor a fiscally conservative/socially liberal candidate, while another 16 percent said they were not sure. Only 31 percent said they would not vote for such a candidate.

Those findings suggest that young people are paying more attention to how politics affects culture — not economics.

“The fact that a socially liberal, fiscally conservative candidate mainly attracts liberals over conservatives indicates that social issues rather than economics largely drive millennials’ political judgments,” wrote pro-libertarian Reason in an accompanying story. “It also suggests millennials are more socially liberal than they are economically liberal.”

As if to drive that point home, the survey indicates that self-identified young conservatives make up the only ideological group in which more people (48 percent) said they would oppose a fiscally conservative, socially liberal candidate than those who said they’d favor such a candidate (43 percent).

Millennials, for the purposes of the survey, are “young Americans aged 18-29 years old.”

Reason also observed that the appeal of a candidate who keeps a tight watch on public funds while adopting a more laissez-faire platform for social issues appears to transcend racial demographics.

In other words, a libertarian-leaning candidate willing to take such a dichotomous approach could find support inside demographic territory traditionally staked out (and taken for granted) by America’s two predominant political parties.

“While partisanship and voting intention often vary by race and ethnicity, this is less so for a libertarian-leaning candidate,” wrote Reason. “Fifty-five percent of both white and Latino millennials would support such a candidate, while 30 percent would oppose. Slightly fewer African-American and Asian American millennials would support the candidate, by a margin of roughly 46 percent in support to 37 percent opposed.”

View the full survey here.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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