The oft-maligned millennials — the generation of so-called left-leaning ideas like "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings" — is actually more conservative than most would expect. The young adults born between 1980 and 1994 are actually more likely to identify as conservative than Generation Xers and Baby Boomers were at the same age, according to a new paper published Wednesday.
The study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin concluded that the younger generation is more polarized politically than past generations. That polarization includes more younger folks leaning to the right compared with past generations, according to a CNN report Wednesday. The report does not detail what values are inspiring young people to back the GOP.
"High school seniors are more likely to identify as political conservatives now compared to 10 years ago. Most surprising, more identify as conservatives now compared to the 1980s, presumably the era of the young conservative, such as the character Alex P. Keaton in the 1980s show 'Family Ties.' That goes against the common view of millennials as very liberal," Jean Twenge, psychology professor at San Diego State University and lead author of the paper, told CNN. "So the current view of millennials as liberals might be due to their age — young people are more likely to be liberal. But if you compare young people now to young people in previous decades, those now are more conservative."
The paper reviewed data from three separate surveys between 1970 to 2015 — in total tracking some 10 million Americans — and compared millennial responses to past generations. The data showed that as they headed into college, 23 percent of millennials identified as far-right, compared with 17 percent for Baby Boomers and 22 percent of Gen Xers, according to CNN.
Young people largely flocked to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who lost to nominee Hillary Clinton, during the primary season earlier this year. Traditional wisdom, however, tends to suggest that as millennials age more and more will start to migrate further right. Both of the major party candidates, Clinton and GOP nominee Donald Trump, have struggled with young voters ahead of the November presidential election. Recent Pew figures put Clinton ahead of Trump, 38 percent to 27 percent, among 18- to 29-year-olds.