Republicans are known for their deep appreciation of the past — bringing political conversations back to the constitution and moral conversations back to the Bible. But we’ve seen some big social changes in the past few decades — specifically in terms of rights for LGBTQ folks and the legalization of marijuana. While many Democrats have changed their social positions, Republicans have been hesitant.
Although the Democratic party is known for being the more attractive party to young people, there are plenty of young Republicans. Unlike their elders, a lot of youth who lean right have embraced some changes. The question is whether they’ll bring those progressive policies with them when they become the Republican leaders of tomorrow. So how do young Republicans differ in opinion from older Republicans?
Young Republicans want legal marijuana
In general, support for legalizing marijuana has overcome opposition. As of October 2014, Pew polls show 52% favoring its legal use. The research center says that trend is due to the millennial generation, who support marijuana use more than the generations before them.
Pew cites the biggest gap between the young and old regarding opinions on marijuana legalization to be in the Republican party. More than six in 10 Republican millennials support marijuana legalization, and only 35% want it to be illegal, according to Pew. That strong show of support slowly depletes as you look at older ages in the Republican party. Meanwhile, 47% of Republican Generation Xers, 38% of Baby Boomers, and 17% of the Silent generation support making pot legal.
They’re also in favor of same-sex marriage
The trend of young Republicans favoring pot legalization bears resemblance to their support of same-sex marriage. Similar to marijuana legalization, same-sex marriage has the support of over half the population of the U.S. Pew says that 54% of the public favors allowing same-sex couples to legally marry. The party breakdown shows that 69% of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents favoring same-sex marriage, while only 39% Republicans and Republican leaners support it.
But younger Republicans’ opinions on the issue resemble those of Democrats, as 61% of Republicans and Republican leaners under 30 favor same-sex marriage while just 35% oppose it. The numbers reverse for older Republicans: Only 27% of Republicans ages 50 and older favor allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Beyond just supporting same-sex marriage, young Republicans have more liberal opinions about same-sex couples. Only 18% of Republicans under 30 think that “more gay and lesbian couples raising children” is a bad thing for American society, and 26% say it is a good thing. The remaining 56% either say it doesn’t make a difference or they don’t know. There is a drastic change in opinion regarding same-sex couples raising children for Republicans over 30, as 47% of those between the ages of 30 and 49, 52% of those between 50 and 64, and 66% of those 65 and older think it’s a bad thing for society.
The general trend of the whole country coming around to these opinions suggests that these more liberal leanings — at least on the aforementioned issues — aren’t just a phase for younger members of the GOP. Once they start pursuing political careers, it’s possible we may see more Republicans supporting these causes and perhaps a change in party opinion.