DALLAS, Oct. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The impending presidential election has already become one of the most tempestuous in history. As candidates continue to race toward the finish line in November, they are facing one of the most dynamically diverse voter groups in U.S. history, whose complexities and corresponding perspectives are important to understand in order to effectively appeal to the many unique cohorts that will sway election results.
Leading our nation's diversity, the Millennial generation consists of more than 44 percent ethnic minorities. Millennials have officially surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation, now comprising more than one quarter of the overall U.S. population. However, most noteworthy is the influence this now fully voting-age, ethnically diverse generation will have on upcoming elections.
A newly released study by Richards/Lerma and The University of Texas at Austin, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations has uncovered key differences between Millennial ethnic segments regarding their perceptions and ideals regarding U.S. issues and politics. The national study, "Millennials Deconstructed" was conducted among 1,000 Millennials aged 18-34 with representation across White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian ethnicities and reveals many counterintuitive assumptions that prove just how dynamic the social fabric of our nation has become.
A New Set of Ideals
As with past generations, Millennials are setting a unique drumbeat and defining their own vision of the world based on new values and ideals that are relevant to their life experiences. When presented a list of values to which they might personally relate, Millennials maintain more liberal views of the world today. The top five values Millennials believe to be of importance include:
1. Employers should be required to pay the same salary to men and women who perform the same work
2. Access to good healthcare should be a right granted to all Americans
3. Good and accessible education should be a right of all U.S. citizens granted by the government
4. The government should not be allowed to spy on communications, email, or social media
5. There should be term limits set for members of Congress
Key differences can be noted between different ethnic groups of Millennials, however. For instance, compared with other ethnic groups, Hispanic Millennials are more likely to believe the U.S. should require labeling of genetically engineered foods; White Millennials are significantly less likely to support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; while Asian Millennials are less apt to support the legalization of marijuana.
Shifting American Pride
Surprisingly, it's Hispanic Millennials who maintain the greatest sense of American pride compared with other ethnicities. Fifty-four percent of Hispanic Millennials state they are "very proud" of being American despite being the least likely cohort to have a long lineage of heritage in the U.S. In contrast, White Millennials, who are more likely to have generations of American heritage, have the lowest levels of national pride at only 40 percent. Meanwhile, approximately 50 percent of African-American and Asian Millennials state they are very proud.
A More "Live and Let Live" Generation
For the most part, the issues Millennials believe are facing the country today are more liberal than those of the past. Overall, "Economy" is ranked by 50 percent of Millennials to be the leading issue facing the country today. However, this is followed by "Terrorism and National Security" (47%), "Debt and Spending" (43%), "Race Issues" (43%), and "Gun Control" (42%). Collectively, Millennials are less concerned about abortion, same-sex marriage, foreign policy, and the declining influence of Judeo-Christian values.
Not surprisingly, "Race Issues" is believed to be the top concern the U.S. is facing today by African Americans and Hispanics, while Hispanics and Asians are more concerned with immigration.
Rising Waves of Political Influence
Millennials take accountability for following U.S. politics and believe it is their responsibility to do so, with 70 percent agreeing it is somewhat, to very important. Compared with other ethnicities, Black Millennials are 10 percent more likely to be knowledgeable on current U.S. political issues and news.
Supporting Left of Center
As a whole, Millennials are more inclined to support the Democratic Party with 54 percent claiming the party is more representative of their beliefs. And while they may claim to support a particular party, approximately 31 percent have little to no understanding of what each political party even stands for. Hispanics have the lowest levels of understanding with more than 36 percent claiming they have little to no understanding of the key differences between parties.
Democratic and Republican parties alike have the opportunity to more clearly articulate their values and stances on fundamental issues to help educate and guide these more than 20 million estimated Millennials, especially among Hispanics.
Minorities will Lead Millennial Voting
Seventy-seven percent of Asian, Hispanic, and Black Millennials are fairly to absolutely certain they will vote in the coming 2016 elections, while a lesser 73 percent of Whites state they will vote, further highlighting the importance minority Millennial votes will have on coming elections. Of Millennials who do not plan to vote in coming elections, approximately 16 percent, or an estimated 6 million Millennials, won't do so because they believe their vote will not make a difference.
Diminishing Faith in the Traditional System
Yet, while the majority of Millennials claim to be taking more responsibility for staying current about politics and plan to vote in coming elections, they are overall dissatisfied with the state of the U.S. political system today. According to the research, Millennials fail to rate the U.S. political system highly and question the integrity of the traditional two-party system.
Of all Millennial ethnic groups, Whites have the lowest perception of the current system with a mere 18 percent believing the current system is "Good" or "Excellent," compared with more than a quarter (27%) of Hispanic Millennials and one-third (33%) of Black and Asian Millennials.
Millennials will only continue making their mark on the social fabric of the U.S., as they become more active political participants. The generation overall maintains common values, ideals, and beliefs, but key differences exist among the various ethnic sub segments, which provide greater insights into this demographic. To more fully understand the motivating factors of this generation's political stances, these granular insights must be examined.
Insights such as Hispanic Millennials being more patriotic, yet having the lowest levels of understanding the key differences between Democratic and Republican parties, represent opportunities for politicians to help educate and direct these individuals on their party's values and stances. Values such as Hispanic Millennials being more likely to desire labeling of GMOs; White Millennials being less likely to support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; and Asian Millennials being less likely to support marijuana legalization are all factors that must be understood by politicians in order to more fully connect with these constituents.
Perhaps the largest quandary to be addressed, however, is Millennials' overall dissatisfaction with today's traditional left/right political system. Their discontent begs the question of whether our current system can embrace and evolve with the demands that this generation and those to come will bring to the table.
To learn more about the Millennials Deconstructed research project and to download the comprehensive report, visit www.millennialsdeconstructed.com.
1. U.S. Census Bureau. "Millennials outnumber Baby Boomers and are far more diverse." Release Number: CB15-113. June 25, 2015.
2. Goldman Sachs. "Millennials Coming of Age" Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research. Pew Research Center, Current Population Survey. 2016
3. "20 million" estimate based on assessment of total U.S. White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Asian Non-Hispanic, and Hispanic Millennials between 18-34 using Experian Simmons 2015 Winter NCS/NHCS Adults Full Year.
Richards/Lerma is a full-service branding and creative agency dedicated to crafting insightful and relevant communications for the multicultural market. Based in Dallas, Richards/Lerma was founded by Pete Lerma and Stan Richards, creative director of the nation's largest independent branding agency, The Richards Group. Current clients include Avocados From Mexico, Bud Light, Budweiser Chelada, Chrysler, Clamato, Dr Pepper, MetroPCS, Mission, The Home Depot and Ram Trucks. Richards/Lerma can be found online at richardslerma.com and on Twitter at @richardslerma.
About The University of Texas at Austin, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations
The University of Texas at Austin, Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations defies categorization as a catalyst for growing exceptional communication specialists who are eager to enter the business world, as well as a Research I academic institution launching innovative scholars via the advanced study of advertising and public relations at both the master's and Ph.D. levels. More information can be found online at http://advertising.utexas.edu.