EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

March 16, 2014

Column: Millenials rising: New generation at odds with boomers

The young are different from you and me — unless, of course, you happen to be one of them.

If you’re older than 34, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’re no longer the wave of the future. That distinction belongs to those born between 1980 and 2002, dubbed the “millennial generation” because they began to come of age at the turn of the century.

They’ve grown up, most of them have found jobs (although that hasn’t been easy) and they’re a bigger, more powerful part of the electorate every year. The millennials are a major reason President Obama won re-election in 2012; if nobody under 30 had voted that year, Mitt Romney would be in the White House today.

The independent Pew Research Center released a major report on the attitudes of the millennial generation last week, and here’s what it found:

— The millennials are decidedly liberal, especially on social issues such as immigration and same-sex marriage. That helps explain why Obama won their votes by a 16-point margin in 2012.

Among those under 34, self-declared liberals outnumber conservatives by a small margin, 31 percent to 29 percent, making them the only age group in which conservatives aren’t ahead. (Among baby boomers, a generation once considered decidedly anti-establishment, conservatives far outnumber liberals, 41 percent to 21 percent.)

The difference is even more striking when it comes to social issues. A majority of millennials, 55 percent, believe illegal immigrants should be granted a pathway to citizenship; that’s true of no other age group. According to Pew’s polls, a massive 68 percent of millennials support same-sex marriage; among baby boomers and older voters, support for same-sex marriage is still below 50 percent. The numbers are similar on marijuana legalization: 69 percent of millennials think it’s a good idea; baby boomers may think they invented marijuana, but only about half think it ought to be legal.

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