Most American millennials are politically independent: Study

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New York, Sep 8 (IANS) Although millennial voters are seen as a key demographic factor for a political victory in the US, their political views differ significantly from their parents or young people of previous generations, finds a recent research.

In an increasingly individualistic culture, large groups such as political parties are getting less popular among American millennials — people born between the early 1980s and 2000, the study said.

“Americans, especially young people, are abandoning the two major political parties to declare themselves politically independent,” said lead researcher Jean Twenge, Professor at the San Diego State University, in California, in the US.

“Independent” doesn’t necessarily translate into politically moderate, he said.

The study found that as of 2014, nearly half (46 per cent) of adult Americans identified as political independents, including 59 per cent of millennials aged 18 to 29. Both of these numbers are record highs.

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Further, political views have also become more polarised in recent years, with twice as many adults in the 2010s describing themselves as either extremely liberal or conservative than adults in the early 1970s.

Those who do claim allegiance to one of the two major political parties in the US are more homogenous in their views.

These were once liberal and conservative members of both parties, however, today the vast majority of those who identify as Republicans hold conservative views and those who identify as Democrats hold liberal views, the study noted.

In addition, there has also been an uptick in conservatism among young people, in recent years.

High school seniors in the 2010s were 38 per cent more likely to identify as conservatives than their age-matched peers in the 1970s.

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It is surprising because these same young people disagree with many traditionally conservative view points like same-sex marriage and legalising marijuana, indicating a potential overhaul of the definition of conservatism, Twenge observed.

“It may be that the definition of what they consider conservative is changing. Overall, millennials may not be as reliably liberal and Democrat as many had predicted, especially as they are likely to grow more conservative as they get older,” Twenge noted.

For the study, the team examined data from three large, nationally representative surveys of high school seniors, entering college students and adults in the US administered since the 1970s. The surveys included responses to a variety of political questions from 10 million participants.

The findings were published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

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