Two years ago, Pew Research Center found that Republicans and Democrats were more divided along ideological lines than at any point in the previous two decades. But growing ideological distance is not confined to partisanship. There are also growing ideological divisions along educational and generational lines.
Highly educated adults – particularly those who have attended graduate school – are far more likely than those with less education to take predominantly liberal positions across a range of political values. And these differences have increased over the past two decades.
Over the past decade, ideological differences across generations also have widened. Millennials remain more liberal than older generations – 45% express consistently liberal or mostly liberal views, which is little changed from 2004 (41%). In contrast, growing shares of the oldest cohorts – Boomers and Silents – have conservative political values. About a third of Boomers (36%) and 40% of Silents have at least mostly conservative attitudes, up from 21% and 23%, respectively, in 2004.
This analysis is based on a survey conducted last fall among more than 6,000 adults, and draws from data on Pew Research Center surveys going back to 1994. Responses to 10 political values questions – covering opinions about government performance, the social safety net, the environment, immigration, homosexuality and other topics – asked together in each of these surveys were combined to create a scale of ideological consistency.