Young Voters Favor Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative Candidates
July 11, 2014 by Ben Bullard
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 arenâ€™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 â€śmillennialâ€ť age demographic identify themselves as liberals or moderates, theyâ€™re far more likely to favor a conservative approach to fiscal matters. Itâ€™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.
â€śThe fact that a socially liberal, fiscally conservative candidate mainly attracts liberals over conservatives indicates that social issues rather than economics largely drive millennialsâ€™ political judgments,â€ť wrote pro-libertarian Reason in an accompanying story. â€śIt also suggests millennials are more socially liberal than they are economically liberal.â€ť
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 theyâ€™d favor such a candidate (43 percent).
Millennials, for the purposes of the survey, are â€śyoung Americans aged 18-29 years old.â€ť
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 Americaâ€™s two predominant political parties.
â€śWhile partisanship and voting intention often vary by race and ethnicity, this is less so for a libertarian-leaning candidate,â€ť wrote Reason. â€śFifty-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.â€ť
View the full survey here.