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How Gen Z and Millennials Are Feeling About America, In 4 Charts

With the 4th of July days away, we’re checking in on Gen Z and Millennial Americans’ feelings on patriotism, the future of the country, and more…

The 4th of July is this week, and not only do we know how Gen Z and Millennials will be celebrating (60% will be watching fireworks, and 46% will be having a barbeque), we also took the opportunity to ask them about patriotism and the state of America right now.

How young Americans feel about the direction of the country will only become more important in the next year, as the presidential election approaches. And, despite having a reputation for not showing up at the polls, there is strong evidence that they will be engaged in 2020. According to Pew Research Center, Millennial turnout nearly doubled for the latest midterm election. Census Bureau data shows that 22-37-year-olds cast 21.9 million more votes in last year’s midterm than they did in 2014, with total turnout rising from 22% to 44%. Meanwhile, 30% of eligible 18-21-year-olds showed up to the polls, meaning even college kids are upping their political involvement. Together with Gen X, these young demos outvoted Boomers and older generations for the first time.

Our survey on the 4th of July and patriotism found that 62% of 13-36-year-olds (and 71% of 25-36-year-olds) say they are following news about the Democratic primaries. Almost seven in ten young people tell us they think it is unpatriotic not to vote. We’ve looked at some of the issues that may be driving their votes, but their views on America could be just as influential in their decisions. And their feelings are complicated.

First, we’ll start with how many feel pride in the U.S.A. right now:

While they might not be the most patriotic generations, the reality is that the majority of young consumers—76% overall—tell us that they’re proud to be an American. Teens are the most likely to completely agree with this statement, while 18-24-year-olds are the most likely to completely disagree (though still a minority). The two older groups here were almost equally likely to disagree with the statement overall. The pattern of 18-24-year-olds having the most negative current outlook on the country continues throughout the data. They’re also the most likely to say they completely disagree with the statement “I consider myself to be patriotic,” and least likely to strongly disagree with it.

When how these groups feel about the future of the country, the age divides continue:

Despite their overall pride in being American, Gen Z and Millennials both are feeling negative about the future here, with the majority of all groups saying that America is changing for the worse, and that they’re worried about the future of America. Again, 18-24-year-olds were most likely to feel negatively about the country: over half of this groups strongly agrees that they worry about the future of the U.S.A. These college-age young people are clearly disillusioned. When we dig deeper, they’re the most likely to say that “The American Dream” doesn’t exist anymore.

The state of mind of this group is important. While some 13-17-year-olds will have aged into their voting years by 2020, the majority will not be bringing their relatively more positive outlooks to the polls. Eighteen-24-year-olds, on the other hand, will all be able to vote in the impending presidential election, and they’re not feeling good about the current direction of the country. These young, disillusioned voters could be a key force in deciding what happens next.

We’ll be continuing to monitor their beliefs, as well as their specific voting plans over the next, vital, year and a half.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.