Young Americans Are Leaning Left, New Poll Finds

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Young Americans are more likely than the general public to favor a government-run universal health care insurance system, an open-door policy on immigration and the legalization of gay marriage, according to a New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll. The poll also found that they are more likely to say the war in Iraq is heading to a successful conclusion.

The poll offers a snapshot of a group whose energy and idealism have always been as alluring to politicians as its scattered focus and shifting interests have been frustrating. It found that substantially more Americans ages 17 to 29 than four years ago are paying attention to the presidential race. But they appeared to be really familiar with only two of the candidates, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, both Democrats.

They have continued a long-term drift away from the Republican Party. And although they are just as worried as the general population about the outlook for the country and think their generation is likely to be worse off than that of their parents, they retain a belief that their votes can make a difference, the poll found.

More than half of Americans ages 17 to 29 — 54 percent — say they intend to vote for a Democrat for president in 2008. They share with the public at large a negative view of President Bush, who has a 28 percent approval rating with this group, and of the Republican Party. They hold a markedly more positive view of Democrats than they do of Republicans.

Among this age group, Mr. Bush’s job approval rating after the attacks of Sept. 11 was more than 80 percent. Over the course of the next three years, it drifted downward leading into the presidential election of 2004, when 4 of 10 young Americans said they approved how Mr. Bush was handling his job.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchTeens / Youth* Economics, Politics

26 Comments
Posted June 27, 2007 at 1:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. TonyinCNY wrote:

A New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll

I’m glad that this poll was done for three unbiased sources.

June 27, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
2. Grandmother wrote:

Of coure the “young folks” think what they think. They know nothing about sacrafice, waiting until one has the money to buy something, and the amazing thing is they think “they’re NOT going to be better off than their parents”,, when in fact they already are!!!

As for “government” health care, anyone who was married to a person in the military knows exactly what that means.  No, one, except the very poorest of citizens will put up with it for long.  for instance, when one is pregnant, its highly unlikely one will see the same doctor more than one (maybe twice) during the nine months.
I NEVER before saw the doctor who delivered my kids (4) before he examined me when I was in labor.

Granted this comes from a post-depression child, but I’m very worried about the next generations in this disposable society.

June 27, 1:48 pm | [comment link]
3. palmettopastor wrote:

Young people always lean left.  It is in their nature…as they grow older, many of them straighten up…then some tilt a bit to the right…

June 27, 2:02 pm | [comment link]
4. Billy wrote:

As has been said many times, “if you are not liberal when you are young, you have no heart; if you don’t become conservative when you are older, you have no brain.”  Favoring universal government paid-for health care shows exactly that.  The young has not paid enough taxes to know what universal healthcare would mean.  And they don’t know enough about war to not be optimistic about our success in Iraq.  And if the questions were like the one listed (“Americans should always welcome new immigrants,”), then questioning the poll’s accuracy, as well as the objectivity of the poll-takers, is definitely in order.

June 27, 2:09 pm | [comment link]
5. Scotsreb wrote:

What this headline omits to consider are the following data mentioned within the story.

28% Self describe themselves as Liberal.
27% Self describe themselves as Conservative.

Hmm…. within the margin of error, (+/- 4%), this could very well be reversed and there is a larger portion of this group, who would self-describe themselves as conservative.

This is a typical NYT rubbish piece, playing with numbers to come to a plausibly incorrect conclusion, and then to trumpet that conclusion in their headline.

June 27, 2:16 pm | [comment link]
6. Mike Bertaut wrote:

Re: Universal Healthcare, pretty much what I spend my whole life doing (at work) studying strategic trends in the healthcare world and there are a couple of issues I can never get the NYT to talk about:
1. The healthcare industry can be thought of as a giant funnel that moves 17% of the U.S. GDP (how’s $2.3 Trillion a year grab you?) to 2.2% of the population.  Talk about re-distribution of wealth!!
2.  33% of this money gets spent at the hospital.  Hospitals lose lots of money on the uninsured, lose about 10% on government patients (Medicare, Medicaid) and make it all up on the privately insured.  Therefore, if you are buying private health insurance (I work for a carrier) puff out that chest, because you are paying for healthcare for EVERYBODY.
3.  There are at least 8 countries in the world who spend 12% or less of their GDP (versus our almost 17%) on healthcare and have LONGER LIFE EXPECTANCIES than the U.S.  Chalk it up to a real reluctance to embrace fast food, personal vehicle ownership, and the 60 hour work week in those countries.  Oh, and they also have the good sense to say “Take me, Lord” when Medical science has run out of options, instead of spending millions of dollars more on every fly-by-night treatment that comes along to extend their life a few more weeks.  Sometimes I think here in the U.S. we’ve decided that death is now optional.  That can get pretty expensive.

Now, wouldn’t you just love to see them do a real investigative piece on any of these facts that are REALLY costing you all that money at the doctor?  Yeah, me too!
KTF!...mrb

June 27, 3:02 pm | [comment link]
7. bob carlton wrote:

spending time with young people gives me so much hope for the future of god’s creation - they value the earth, they see few boundaries for god’s transforming love, they sacrifice their time & treasure to care for others less fortunate than themselves.  this generation is a stark contrast to the baby boomers who have run amuk in the church, politics & culture in the west

it’ may come as a surprise that the old saw “if you are not liberal when you are young, you have no heart; if you don’t become conservative when you are older, you have no brain” is not accurate - people under 30 & over 60 have tended to be more “liberal” politically for the past 30 years - it’s the baby boomers (like me) who have mortgaged future generations for conspicuous consumption, a fool’s war in Iraq and tax cuts for the wealthy, while millions live in poverty & go without health care.  ho hum - at least I have can drive my lexus to my nice old church

June 27, 5:35 pm | [comment link]
8. Philip Snyder wrote:

I remember reading that the single largest predictor of political persuasion (liberal/conservative) is being married with children.  Those who are unmarried are the most liberal.  Those who are married without out children lean liberal.  Those who are married with children and both parents work lean conservative and those who are married with children where one parent stays home are the most conservative.  Another predictor of political persuasion is church attendence (not membership). The more often a person attends church/synagogue, the more conservative they are likely to be.

Bob, you sound as if we had no problem with deficits or government debt until the war with Iraq.  Do you have any idea how much more in debt the government would be if we had a national health insurance?  Our federal government anti-poverty programs do not solve the problems, but they keep people in poverty.  They tend to discourage marriage and work and entrepeneurship all of which add to wealth of individuals (and thus nations).

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

June 27, 6:07 pm | [comment link]
9. bob carlton wrote:

phil, the rovian myth about church attendance correlating with being conversvative was true in 2000, 2002 & 2004 - 3 election cycles out of the last 20

in terms of debt, if we much deficit spend, i’d much rather do it for those in need.  if i remember correctly, the last 2 8 yr “conservative” presidents have left the us in a pile of iou’s.  clinton is no model of responsibility (fiscal or other), but at the end of his term there was a surplus

as for helath care programs, both the ca. & mass programs cost money upfront, but appear to pay off in 3 yrs - at least that is what their repub govenors say.  lord know this is money better spent than tax cuts for the wealthiest - doesn’t marin & plano have enough hummers, megachurches & flat screen tvs ?

you & i agree that govt programs alone can not address poverty - but it is a cannard to assert that federal government anti-poverty programs do not solve the problems, but they keep people in poverty.  folks like sam brownback, rudy carrasco & john perkins would assure you of that, just as jim wallis or richard rhor would.  combining personal responsibility, charitable support & gvt programs that assist - that is a winning combo

June 27, 6:35 pm | [comment link]
10. Steven in Falls Church wrote:

Here is the link to the poll itself: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/politics/20070627_POLL.pdf

I have an ongoing debate with my wife (a former journalist) as to whether poll-based stories like this push the bounds of journalism ethics, because they essentially involve newspapers creating the news they report.  I tend to think newspapers should eschew poll-based stories because of the inevitability of leading or misleading questions and the risk of an unrepresentative sample (note that almost 2/3 of the sampling is actually clustered at the low end of the age range, so this is more a poll of high school and college kids than of young adults).  Polling less than 700 people nationwide may give an accurate picture when done repeatedly, such as a nightly presidential tracking poll, but not for a one-off deal like this.

However, to the extent people accept the credibility of the poll results, the Hillary camp has to be alarmed by the 43% unfavorable rating from this group, which is slightly higher than the unfavorable rating given by a recent poll of all adults.  If a significant slice of even this group can’t stand her, it looks like the Democrats are going to repeat what they did in 2004 and nominate another unelectable candidate.

June 27, 7:00 pm | [comment link]
11. jamesw wrote:

I have a beef with what is deemed to be conservative and liberal.  I am a strong supporter of universal health care.  I have lived in Canada and I know its strengths and weaknesses, and so I would probably favor more of a hybrid system then what exists currently in Canada.  I also oppose capital punishment and am generally in favor of gun control.  I lean towards a more open immigration policy but believe that just as I respected the law, so should others.  I could recite several more issues that most people would say are liberal.

And yet, I am widely regarded as being very conservative, and would tend to catergorize myself as a moderate conservative.  I am pro-life and oppose state recognition of any relationship other then heterosexual marriage.  I believe that government must be limited, and should not spend more then it brings in.

My point is what does this all mean?  Not much.  Younger people tend to be more idealistic and tend to not think so much on consequences.  For example, gay “marriage” sounds very open and tolerant, but in the end it will result in children being seen as “products” to be obtained by couples and this will dehumanize society.  Then young people will be in the forefront to curtail it.  Just like many years back the young people favored easy abortion, but now, the younger generation has seen the callousness of that position and are becoming more pro-life.

June 27, 7:27 pm | [comment link]
12. John B. Chilton wrote:

I’d read this earlier and didn’t find it helpful for answering a question like what is the trend? are young people getting more liberal (say on homosexual marriage) and what would that portend for this size of the dissident group in TEC in 10 years, 20 years.

June 27, 8:44 pm | [comment link]
13. Larry Morse wrote:

The young have always been more liberal because they live in a world that is, for them, an open mass of options. This generation is different in one radical way, truly radical: Electronic technology has removed them from active contact with the experiential world. Rich and poor, bright and stupid, their eyes and ears are tuned to a purely virtual world,and they cannot help thinking and believing that the external world should be brought into alignment with the virtual world, for that is their standard for the real. This will profoundly effect how they see the experiential world and what how they expect to deal with it.

  Moreover, this generation has been brought up with the Self Esteem disease. They think so highly of themselves for no better reason than that they have been taught that they are unique and therefore intrinsically of great value. The real world does not hold this opinion and never has.

  Finally, they have wealth, comfort and protection such as the world has never known before. They are rolling in the kind of wealth that destroyed Rome and they do not know it. The hunger for endless gratification and entertainment hangs on the perpetuation of the continuation of the endless wealth, and businessmen have already had to deal with a generation that thinks it should be paid very well indeed even before it has produced anything of value. Nice kids? Yes, I suppose. But from the time they were old enough, they have had cheap and easy sex wherever and whenever it was wanted - college kids may well be the worst in this matter.
Because of this and the above, they have virtually no sense of self-restraint, self-discipline. I have watched this in high school for years, and this gestalt bodes ill for the future.  LM

June 27, 8:59 pm | [comment link]
14. bob carlton wrote:

larry, what a sad view of tyoung people you have - and ironic on your point about technology, given that you are posted this via an online site

i’ve worked with thousands of teenagers & young adults over the last 20 years - your portrayal in no way matches with the folks I have been blessed to work with

June 27, 9:24 pm | [comment link]
15. RoyIII wrote:

Bob Carlton: +1.  I find hope in the fact that each succeeding generation seems to be smarter than mine.

June 27, 9:48 pm | [comment link]
16. Deja Vu wrote:

bob carleton has been blessed to work with terrific young people and places them in stark contrast to the odious behavior of the baby boomer generation. Could these odious baby boomers actually be the parents of the terrific young people? It is certainly a miracle and praise God that such odious parents produced such a marvelous next generation.

June 27, 10:02 pm | [comment link]
17. Jill C. wrote:

“If you are not liberal when you are young, you have no heart; if you don’t become conservative when you are older, you have no brain.”
I first heard this quote from my boss a few months ago.  (Not sure what rock I’ve been hiding under, but I gather it’s a well-known saying!)  I told him that I must have been totally heartless when I was young because I voted for Reagan my first time out of the gate and continue to more than lean to the right.  Heartless me, I volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center, participated in a prayer chain by phone on a regular basis, helped teach childbirth classes to unwed expectant mothers, served as a labor coach and para-professional counselor on adoption—all while I was still in my 20s.  Guess there’s always exceptions to the rule!

June 27, 11:32 pm | [comment link]
18. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “. . . and what would that portend for this size of the dissident group in TEC in 10 years, 20 years.”

Wow—an incredibly naive question, not really in keeping with reality.  Why would it matter?  The “dissident group” will be in another Anglican entity or other denominations entirely either.  In another 10 or 20 years, the ECUSA will be made up entirely of the radical, foaming at the mouth, raving revisionists that currently run that national structure.

Not really all that bad a thing . . . and certainly not the end of the world . . .

But I’m amazed that progressive Episcopalians can still be as oblivious to what is happening within ECUSA as that naive question.

June 27, 11:35 pm | [comment link]
19. Bob (aka BobbyJim) wrote:

Some good comments here. I would suggest some basic critical thinking, and pay attention to these questions: Is the poll sample valid? Are the poll questions valid? Arethe results showing a ‘new’ trend? Are the paper/author(s)/poll conductors interpreting the results correctly?

Anything new in these poll results? IMHO, probably not. Sometimes polls are self fulling, and sometimes analysis is flawed.

June 28, 2:30 am | [comment link]
20. Larry Morse wrote:

#15: Sad but rooted in a lot of experience. See here the most recent Atlantic Monthly, a side bar called Generation Me (I forget the name of the section it is in). This is a subsantial study of 16,000+ college students who were given the Narcissism Assessment (I didn’t even know one existed). The results are clear. There has been a very substantial increase in the youngs’ narcissism and the report cites potential causes and effects. But this is an apiphany of the obvious. They are telling us what we already know is the case.

  Mind you, I don’t know what young kids Bob has worked with. I do know the statistics. The evidence is overwhelming that sex in college is both free and frequent, and the conclusion cannot be avoided that many college girls have both the manners and morals of streetwalkers. Is this surprising? Of course not. They have been taught sexual freedom for years. The same is true of cheating on papers and examinations, from elementary school to college. In short, pick a vice, and you will find the young have made a sound practice of it.

  Here’s a dreadful fact: One may lead a life of dissolution to a degree and still be a “nice kid.” But how is that possible? By integrating the acceptability of vice-ridden practices into one’s personal philosophy so that the practices do not show external effects on one’s social behavior. Bad people can be as nice as can be, polite, sensitive, tolerant, generous, hardworking and what not. I knew a Boston stripper some years ago who was all of the above, but she was a stripper in a sleaze joint, unquestionably made extra money by closer contact with her customers - she certainly stirred my hormones - and yet lived in a comfortable home in the suburbs and made sure her kids never skipped school or missed their homework. It is likely tht the residents of Sodom saw nothing aberrant in their behavior, and unquestionably obeyed the existing social norms. LM

June 28, 8:22 am | [comment link]
21. Reactionary wrote:

people under 30 & over 60 have tended to be more “liberal” politically for the past 30 years

Not coincidentally, the young and the old tend to be net tax consumers.

I don’t know what your objections to Bush could be.  He has aggressively prosecuted wars of democratic liberation, funded globalist dissident groups in Eastern Europe, expanded Medicare, federalized education, put “faith-based organizations” on the government teat, and reined in federal enforcement of immigration laws while pushing for ever more immigration.  Nothing for a liberal not to love.

June 28, 3:43 pm | [comment link]
22. libraryjim wrote:

Reactionary,
all that is moot because of one point:
President Bush has pursued a war against terrorism and overthrown a dictator where liberal democrats favor appeasment.
That’s the ‘deal breaker’ as it were.

June 28, 5:57 pm | [comment link]
23. Reactionary wrote:

Jim,

“All that” is not moot.  The war on Iraq was as unnecessary as Clinton’s war on Serbia and Bush has not even gone so far as to curtail domestic spending to pay for such a supposedly worthy enterprise.

In fact, I bet most of the supporters of this war have not forgone a single tax deduction towards the war effort.

June 28, 8:45 pm | [comment link]
24. libraryjim wrote:

We disagree on the necessity of the war on Iraq.  However, I was making a point that no matter how much President Bush has done that the Democrats SHOULD like, they cannot admit it or they think they will lose ground on the War on Terror issue.

June 29, 5:42 pm | [comment link]
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