CHICAGO (AP) â¿¿ This generation of young Americans has been called many things, from civic-minded to "entitled." But fiscally conservative?
That's a new one, and it just might have an impact on the presidential election.
Listen to Caroline Winsett, a senior at DePaul University, who considers herself fairly socially liberal but says being fiscally conservative matters most right now.
"Ultimately, I'm voting with my pocketbook," says Winsett, a 22-year-old political science major who's president of the DePaul student body. She recently cast an absentee ballot for Republican Mitt Romney in her home state of Tennessee.
To be clear, polls show that President Barack Obama remains the favorite among 18- to 29-year-old registered voters, as he was in 2008. No one thinks the majority of young voters will support Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, in the Nov. 6 election.
But the polls also hint at a "schism" between those who weren't old enough to vote in 2008 and their older twentysomething counterparts, says John Della Volpe, the polling director at Harvard University's Institute of Politics.
In one poll, for instance, he found that 42 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds identified as "conservative," compared with just over one-third who said they were "liberal." By comparison, those proportions were nearly flipped for 22- to 24-year-olds: 39 percent said they were "liberal," and a third called themselves "conservative." It was much the same for older twentysomethings.
Tina Wells, head of Buzz Marketing, an agency that tracks the attitudes of young people, has noticed this shift to the right. Her own researchers have found that the youngest adults are much more likely to label themselves "conservative," ''moderate" or "independent" than older millennials, a term for young adults who've entered adulthood in the new millennium.
Like a lot of youth experts, Wells thinks it has to do with one thing: the economy.