Young Democrats, Republicans, and Independents don’t feel the same way about the news—and their trust in different sources tells us a lot…
Nearly three quarters of young consumers believe that fake news is one of the biggest problems in society today—but some are more likely to think that than others. We asked Gen Z and Millennials about their political beliefs, and looked at how young Democrats, Republicans, and Independents (an increasingly important group) feel about the news, uncovering some major differences.
First, where do young people’s political alliances lie? While the next generations are still more likely to lean left than right, we’re seeing a true shift that reveals their growing lack of trust in the two parties. Our research shows that 13-36-year-olds are currently more likely to call themselves Independent or unaffiliated than Democratic or Republican. Specifically, 43% say they are Independent/no affiliation, while 34% identify as Democrat, and 23% as Republican. Teens are significantly more likely to say they have no affiliation—hinting at a future where the choice between red or blue may not be enough. Meanwhile, though it remains the minority group, we have seen an uptick in the number of young consumers who identify as Republican since the last presidential election in 2016, driven by young males.
The majority of young people—especially young Republicans—say news sources are biased, impacting the specific news sources they trust the most. Young Republicans are the least likely to trust newspapers and national TV news shows. Instead, young Republicans are more likely than young Democrats to trust digital sources over traditional—likely because they are finding more sources that align with their beliefs via social media, podcasts, and independent sites. They are also significantly more likely to trust Fox News and statements from the White House. Young Democrats are the most likely to trust newspapers and magazines, and the most likely to trust comedy news programs like The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. We also found that Independent/unaffiliated young people are less trusting of a range of news sources in comparison to the other groups—and that they’re the least likely to believe that their news sources give them accurate information. Considering over two in five young consumers belong to this group, it’s clear that skepticism has become a deeply engrained state of being for many Gen Z and Millennials.
In the end, young people across each political segment have hesitations about where they’re placing their trust. Almost half of young Democrats are only somewhat confident in their news sources—and they’re the most confident of all groups. Young Republicans are most likely to feel almost no trust in news sources, indicating their overall disbelief in stories they see—the fact that they are most likely by far to believe that the media makes up negative stories about Donald Trump is a probable correlation.
To see even more on young consumers’ political leaning and news consumption, take a look at our Infographic Snapshot: