U.S.: New Poll Shows Young Adults Favor Marijuana Legalization

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A new Reason-Rupe study and survey of 2,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 years old finds 57 percent of this demographic -- known as the millennials --believe the government should allow the recreational use of marijuana. Just 39 percent were opposed.

More than 8 of every 10 millennials -- 83 percent -- think that marijuana users should either face no penalties, be fined, or have to attend rehabilitation. Just 14 percent say marijuana users should go to jail.

The Reason-Rupe report finds 74 percent of millennials say government has a responsibility to guarantee every citizen has a place to sleep and enough to eat. Seventy-one percent favor raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and 69 percent say it is government's responsibility to provide everyone with health care insurance.

Sixty-eight percent say government should ensure everyone makes a living wage; 66 percent say raising taxes on the wealthy would help the economy, and 58 percent say the government should spend more on assistance to the poor even it means higher taxes.

Sixty-two percent of millennials describe themselves as socially liberal, while 27 percent say they are socially conservative. The gap is much narrower on economic issues, with 49 percent of millennials identifying themselves as economic liberals and 36 percent labeling themselves as economic conservatives.

Millennials also generally oppose sending people to prison for other drugs besides marijuana, as well. Sixty-eight percent said ecstasy users should either face no penalties, be fined, or have to attend rehab, with just 28 percent saying they should go to jail.

Sixty-three percent said the same should apply to cocaine users (34 percent said cocaine users should go to jail), and 61 percent said the same should apply to heroin users (with 35 percent saying they should go to jail).

2014 and 2016 Elections

Of those registered to vote, 76 percent of millennials say they plan to vote in the 2014 midterm elections. Fifty-three percent of registered millennials tell Reason-Rupe they plan to vote for the Democratic congressional candidate in their district this November, while 29 percent intend to vote for the Republican.

Things look good for Democrats in 2016. When asked to select their top choice for president in 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the top choice of 39 percent of registered millennial voters, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (8 percent), Vice President Joe Biden (6 percent) and the top Republican, Rep. Paul Ryan (6 percent). Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Rand Paul were each the top choice of 5 percent of registered millennial voters.

A majority of millennials, 52 percent, identify themselves as independents when first asked. Just 16 percent self-identify as Republicans, while 32 percent say they're Democrats. Including those leaning towards a party, 43 percent of millennials identify as Democrats, 35 percent as independents, and only 23 percent classify themselves as Republicans.

Millennials don't identify with the political parties and don't have much confidence in them. When asked who they trust most to handle a series of policy issues, young Americans say they trust "neither" party to handle 12 of 15 issues surveyed. Millennials do trust Democrats the most on gay marriage, the environment, and poverty, while only trusting Republicans the most on promoting entrepreneurship.

The complete study, "Millennials: The Politically Unclaimed Generation" by Reason-Rupe Polling Director Emily Ekins, is online here [PDF].

The topline results are available here.

For more information and resources, visit: http://reason.com/poll

The Reason-Rupe national poll, executed by YouGov, surveyed 2,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 29 online from February 28 to March 11, 2014. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percent.

Graphic: Millennial Survival Guide