Q&A – Do Young Voters Trust the Government?
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Today’s entry: Brian, I’d like to get your thoughts on this. You’ve reported younger voters are the least approving of Biden. As you’ve stated this doesn’t automatically make them conservatives but may make them persuadable. One of the biggest obstacles in winning over hearts and minds, in my view, has been an ever-increasing reliance on government over the years. Is there any evidence that it’s not just Biden that younger voters are unhappy with, but government generally? That to me would be a greater indicator as to if young adults are more inclined towards a philosophical shift.
Bottom Line: Excellent question and point. Yes, there’s information which shows this is bigger than Biden. But first let's take a real-time look at what President Biden’s approval rating is with voters 18-34 as its illustrative of the broader points. The survey currently says... 27%. Yeah, just 27% of younger adults take a look at Joe Biden and say – yeah give me more of that sweet action. In Florida, that number is ever so slightly higher at 29%. So clearly, the youngest voters still aren’t picking up what Joe Biden’s putting down. It’s become so bad for him there’s literally not a single demographic breakout with voters 18-34 where Biden has positive approval. So, this is where your question picks up. You want to know if their displeasure extends beyond Biden and towards government more generally as a potential indication that young Millennials and Gen Z are potentially becoming philosophically different than their generally liberal parents. As I mentioned at the onset there is...
Morning Consult maintains a weekly dashboard across a host of categories. Under “institutions”, you’ll see how each generation feels about segments of our society. It’s pretty revealing. One of the categories surveyed on is specifically “trust of the US Government”. What percentage of Gen Z currently approves of the US Government? Only 36%. That’s eight points lower than Millennials and the lowest approval of any generation. That’s a clear break from the prior generation and is only a slightly higher than the percentage that currently approves of President Biden. Incidentally, the generation with the 2nd lowest trust of the US government? My generation, the Gen Xers, who happen to be the most conservative politically this side of the Silent Generation. Now, Gen Z is generally the most skeptical generation when it comes to trusting any number of institutions, however, here are the institutions they trust at a higher percentage than the federal government: The military, healthcare system, police, American companies, the criminal justice system and Wall Street. And here are the only institutions they trust less than the federal government: Religious leaders, Congress (when broken out separately from the federal government), Silicon Valley, Corporate America (when broken out separately from American companies) and Hollywood – which is trusted the least of any institution.
When you breakout the areas of most and least trust among the youngest generation of adults you see a profile that skews heavily in the direction of libertarianism in a political context. 18–34-year-old voters are, in general, skeptical independents who are disgusted with President Biden, the current Congress and federal Government generally. It sounds a lot like where most Xers were at the same age twenty or so years ago. If you aggregate all the data, Boomers and Millennials lineup closely politically, with GenX aligning the most closely of any generation to Gen Z. To specifically answer your question, not only are youngest adults inclined towards a philosophical shift relative to what we’d seen with older Millennials, many have already shifted.