The New Ideology of the Young Republican

By Chris Hoenig

Photo by Andrew Aliferis

Time is running out on the Republicans’ attempts to block the legalization of same-gender marriage (and pass laws legalizing LGBT discrimination) if the plan is to do it along party lines.

In a sign of changing ideological views, 61 percent of young Republicans are in favor of same-gender marriage, according to a new poll from Pew Research Center. Only 35 percent of self-identified Republicans under age 30 oppose it.

Few young Republicans (18 percent) say they believe allowing LGBT couples to raise kids is bad for society, a number that doesn’t differ much from their under-30 Democratic counterparts (14 percent). Among Republican Millennials, more than half (56 percent) say same-gender parents have no impact on society, an opinion that 42 percent of young Democrats agree with.

Overall attitudes toward gay marriage have changed54 percent of Americans (a record high in Pew surveys) are in favor of legalizing same-gender marriage. This includes 63 percent of Americans under age 50, regardless of political party.

This comes at a time of turmoil for both political parties, but especially for Republicans. Only 28 percent of all who identify as or say they lean Republican tell Pew researchers they are happy with their party’s performance, while a whopping 70 percent rate it as “only fair” or “poor.” Almost half of Democrats (49 percent) say their party is on the right track.

The changing ideology of young Republicans are just part of a larger sea of change coming from the Millennial generation. Barely a quarter of Republicans over age 50 support same-gender marriage, and only 5 percent of them think it’s good for society to have gay and lesbian couples raising children. In the 3049 age bracket, only 43 percent of Republicans think gay marriage should be legalized and 15 percent say LGBT parents raising kids is a good thing.

The GOP is also losing its grip on the Millennial generation as a whole. In 2004, 24 percent of Millennials identified as Republican, but that number has dwindled over the past decade to just 17 percent. Half of all Millennials now identify themselves as Independents, a 12-point increase in the last 10 years. Only 26 percent of Americans born between 1981 and 1998 consider themselves conservative, a statistic that grows with older generations (35 percent of Gen X, 41 percent of Boomers and 45 percent of the Silent Generation).

There is also a greater divide between political and social ideologies among Millennials. Nearly half (48 percent) say their political views are liberal, while 42 percent say their political views are conservative. But 57 percent say their social views have become more liberalthe only generation where liberal views cross 50 percentand only 36 percent say they are social conservatives.

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