9 Findings on Millennial Attitudes & Engagement in an Election Year

Does the election-year environment increase millennial cause engagement?

By eleventy marketing group

Understanding Millennial Attitudes and Cause Engagement in an Election Year.jpg

If there’s one thing we can all agree on as a nation it’s that election years are crazy. Issues are raised, opinions are fueled, positioned are taken, debates are heated. For better or worse, the national conversation gets cranked up to 11.

But for political groups and nonprofit organizations, does that amplified conversation translate into greater cause engagement and activism—particularly from the all-important Millennial demographic?

That’s one of the questions Achieve and the Case Foundation are seeking to answer with the 2016 Millennial Impact Report. The report investigates how millennials’ cause engagement behaviors may change during an election year.

“Research repeatedly indicates millennials value cause engagement. With the changing landscape in the U.S. brought on by a presidential election year, the Achieve research team wanted to understand how—or if—this generation’s philanthropic interests and involvement changes as well,” the report states.

About the Millennial Impact Report

Started in 2009, The Millennial Impact Project is the most comprehensive study of the Millennial generation (born 1980-2000) and their involvement with causes. Each year, the project produces the Millennial Impact Report.

The Millennial Impact Report is one of our favorite resources here at eleventy. We’ve talked about findings from these reports on this blog several times over the past few years. Check out some of our past posts:

Nine Key Findings from the 2016 Millennial Impact Report

Here is some data from this year’s Millennial Impact Report that we found to be the most interesting and telling. These findings are based on a survey of 1,050 millennials, ages 18-36, from the months of March-May 2016.

1. More millennials identify as conservative than liberal

The common perception about younger generations is that they tend to lean toward the liberal side. But the results of this survey surprisingly show that’s not necessarily the case.

It is, however, important to note that survey participants used a scale from 0 to 100 to plot their political leanings—and many of the respondents who leaned toward conservative were on the more neutral side.

Millennial political leanings

2. Age plays a significant role in whether millennials identify as liberal or conservative

While overall more millennials identified as conservative, that varies greatly with age. Remember, we’re talking about an overall demographic group ranging in age from 18-36. There’s a big difference in mindset and lifestyle between the ages on the ends of that range.

Those differences are reflected in which political ideology individuals identified with the most. The younger side leaned more liberal, while the older side leaned more conservative.

Millennial political leanings by age

3. Education, health care, and the economy are top social issues for millennials

While it’s not super surprising to see education and the economy topping the survey results, it is a little surprising to see health care coming in ahead of more hot-button issues like immigration, race relations, and national security.Top social issues for millennials

4. Millennials believe they can make a difference in our country

90% of individuals said they believe they can have an impact to make the U.S. a better place to live. Of those, 30% believe they can have a “big impact”. Only 5% of respondents said they did not believe people like them can make an impact.

Millennial impact

5. Millennials don’t have a whole lot of trust in the government

When asked how much they trusted the U.S. government to do what is right, only 18% of respondents said they trust the government “a lot” while 20% said they trust the government “not at all”. The most common response with 31% was “trust them only a little”—not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Millennial government trust

6. Most millennials say they are planning on voting in the presidential election

Responses varied somewhat significantly when this question was asked in March, April and May—perhaps influenced by what was happening with the candidates in the race (at that time it wasn’t just a Trump-Clinton choice).

Millennials planning to vote in presidential election

The answer to this question was also significantly different based on age—with younger millennials saying they were less likely to vote than older millennials.

millennials planning to vote by age group

7. Only half of millennial respondents reported donating or volunteering in the past month

Overall, 52% of millennials said they made a donation to a cause affiliated with a social issue they care about in the past month. That number dips to 46% for volunteering. Meanwhile, 64% of respondents said they signed a petition for an issue they cared about in the past month.

Perhaps most notable were the big differences in the numbers between individuals who identified as liberal and individuals who identified as conservative. The report also notes a significant difference in responses between the genders—with males showing increased activity in all categories.

Millennial social issue activity in the past month

8. Millennials tend to be vocal about social issues they care about on social media

61% of respondents said they posted about an issue on social media in some manner (post, comment, retweet, etc.) in the past week. 31% of those individuals said they did it 1-3 times in the past week. 30% of respondents said they posted about an issue they care about more than 4 times over the past week.

Millennial social media issue posting and engagement

9. Facebook is the leading platform for millennials to post about social issues

This is not surprising given that Facebook has the biggest user base of any social network by a longshot. 88% of millennials said they used Facebook to post or engage about social issues over the past week. Twitter came in second with 56%.

The report also notes that this data was similar for all age groups.

Millennial social media platforms for posting about social issues

Download the full 2016 Millennial Impact Report here.

Also, check out and share this infographic…

2016 Millennial Impact Report Infographic