Every four years, the Public Religion Research Institute and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University take the pulse of 18-24 year old Millennials. Their latest survey gives us insight into this newest set of young American voters.
The most important issue for Millenials is the economy, and most of the respondents would like to see the government take a more pro-active role in reducing the gap between rich and poor and in directly stimulating the economy.
Among the issues Millennials believe are critically important, more than three-quarters (76 percent) cite jobs and unemployment, followed by the federal deficit (55 percent), and education (54 percent). Only 1-in-5 say social issues like abortion (22 percent) or same-sex marriage (22 percent) are critical.
“College-age Millennials are also notable for their support for economic reforms that address the gap between the rich and the poor,” said Daniel Cox, Research Director at Public Religion Research Institute. “More than 6-in-10 Millennials say that one of the biggest problems in this country is that we don’t give everyone an equal chance in life.”
Nearly 7-in-10 (69 percent) Millennials believe that the government should do more to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, while 28 percent disagree. Younger Millennials also strongly favor (72 percent) a policy sometimes called the “Buffett Rule,” which would increase the tax rate on Americans earning more than $1 million a year. But Millennials also show some concerns about the role of government; two-thirds (67 percent) agree that poor people have become too dependent on government assistance programs.
On social questions, Millennials are strongly in favor of gay marriage even if they personally question the morality of same-sex relationships.
Although younger Millennials are divided on the morality of gay and lesbian sexual relationships, a solid majority support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally.
Nearly 6-in-10 (59%) college-age Millennials favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry, compared to 37% who are opposed.
Millennials are nearly evenly divided over whether sex between two adults of the same gender is morally acceptable (48%) or morally wrong (44%).
Similarly, Millennials strongly support legal abortion and better access to abortion services even as a majority have at least some reservations about the morality of abortion.
Despite holding some moral reservations about abortion, a majority of college-age Millennials support legal abortion, as well as community access to abortion services.
A majority of college-age Millennials say that abortion should be legal in all (24%) or most cases (30%). More than 4-in-10 say that abortion should be illegal in most (28%) or all cases (16%). Roughly 6-in-10 (59%) Millennials believe that at least some health care professionals in their community should provide legal abortions.
A slim majority (51%) of Millennials believe that having an abortion is morally wrong, compared to 37% who say it is morally acceptable.
The survey shows that most Millennials are wary of organized religion and have reservations about what they as the disconnect between the values of Christianity and the actions of modern-day Christians.
Millennials’ feelings toward present-day Christianity are fairly ambivalent. Approximately three-quarters (76%) of younger Millennials say that modern-day Christianity “has good values and principles,” and 63% agree that contemporary Christianity “consistently shows love for other people.” On the other hand, nearly two-thirds (64%) of Millennials say that “anti-gay” describes present-day Christianity somewhat or very well. And more than 6-in-10 (62%) Millennials also believe that present-day Christianity is “judgmental.”
Full survey here.