Micheal Sean Winters has directed us to a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute on the Millennials. In part because these are the students we teach, there is a treasure-trove of information for us in the report. But I want to briefly direct attention to this generation’s “magenta” trend–as it continues to dramatically fail our political culture’s red-state/blue-state binary.
For starters, we learn that a whopping 45% of this generation defines itself politically as “Independent.” This is a huge number, even when compared to the 41% who, across all age groups, identify as independents in 2011. (Incidentally, Gallup notes that the 41% number is the highest percentage of independents recorded in the history of the poll.)
By way of practical example, only 37% of Millennials consider abortion to be morally acceptable. This is one of the lowest percentages across all age groups, and a marked change from 1975 when Gallup tells us that young people were the most supportive of abortion. However, and despite our public discourse’s insistence on connecting abortion with GLBT issues at nearly every turn, it turns out that 59% of Millennials support same-sex marriage.
Currently available political categories have already failed the complexity of the issues in our public discourse, but they are now beginning to fail the way our culture is thinking about them–and this trend is being led by young people.