Conservatives are often misperceived as racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-science, and hating the poor. The list goes on. If you’re a conservative in 2018, there is a good chance you have been called at least one of these names for simply stating that you’re a conservative, and without even having to bring up an actual policy or discuss politics.
Like many of my politically-minded peers, I struggle to find my place in modern politics. I don’t think my views are represented in either party, but I am more conservative than liberal. I found that many of my political friends felt the same as me, and I was curious if any other conservatives were in the same boat as us.
As any 20-year-old would, I turned to Twitter to find out what my peers believe as conservatives. I was curious to see if there was a conservative political age divide on Twitter and on specific policies/social issues.
I want to make a disclaimer that I am aware this is not a scholarly study; there are many credibility issues with Twitter polls that require consideration. This includes the fact that conservatives on Twitter are disproportionately younger, people accidently vote for the wrong poll option, and alt-right and anti-Semitic users hijacked my Israel-related questions. Nonetheless, I would say my polls are accurate overall because thousands of users participated. I had an average of 4,741 twitter users vote per poll. A minimum sample size of 2,000 participants is required for a research study to be considered valid.
I also won’t be discussing every single poll in detail, but feel free to check out all the results here.
A clear majority of the young conservatives I know voted for President Trump, but he was not our first, second, or even third choice. Overall, 73% of poll respondents indicated that Trump was not their first or second choice, with 50% of the respondents being 30 or younger. Although Trump was not at the top of our list, many young conservatives do support his border wall. Among young conservatives, 47% support the wall, while 23% do not.
Since President Trump also stirred the pot when he did away with DACA, I asked whether there should be a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients. A total of 55% voted “yes,” 40% of respondents were younger conservatives. Continuing with the theme of policy and politicians, I asked whether the current GOP represents them, their values, their personal/political beliefs, and what they believe is good for the country. Overall, 80% say that the current GOP does not represent conservatives, with 56% being younger conservatives under the age of 30.
Diving into social issues, I was a bit surprised, myself. When asked whether they support gay rights, 75% of respondents answered “yes” out of 4,972 votes. Among young conservatives, the results were 53% “yes” and 17% “no”— in sharp contrast with the older generation, which voted 22% “yes” to 8% “no.” This suggests that conservatives are constantly accused of being homophobic, when, in fact, we widely support gay rights. Staying on the topic of the LGBTQ+ community, I also asked if conservatives care whether someone changes their gender. A majority (57%) responded “no,” if the transitioning person is of age and can decide for themselves.
What surprised me the most was responses to the abortion question. When I asked if they were pro-abortion for any reason, 24% of young conservatives voted “yes,” and 46% voted “no.”
I see my fellow peers advocate for criminal justice reform, yet see little of it in legislation. Many young conservatives support the legalization of marijuana and lowering the drinking age. My results saw a close split in support for decriminalizing prostitution (37% “no” and 31% “yes”). Many of us also support common-sense gun reform, but not the kind of gun reform liberals want. Young conservatives also support sex education in schools when kids are of age and support the separation of church and state.
Lastly, the left loves to accuse conservatives of being anti-science and claiming that we don’t care about saving the environment. I asked whether conservatives think that saving the environment is important, and 79% voted “yes.” Many people told me that they of course want to save the environment, but do not want to be forced to pay pollution or car emission taxes. I also asked if they believed in climate change, whether it is man-made, natural, or a mix of both. In total, 73% voted “yes” with 53% of respondents young conservatives.
The new breed of conservatism is a wave of young conservatives who believe in individual freedoms. We support our President, but are critical of him and don’t think the government is the answer to everything. The liberal narrative is that young conservatives will vote the way their more traditional parents want them to, but, based on these results, young conservatives are thinking more for themselves.
As more of the younger generation participate in politics, I believe the country will see a dramatic shift in traditional conservative values. This will be demonstrated through voting results, participation in campaigns, and candidacy for office.