Green Bay Press-Gazette

America’s millennial generation, according to a locally inspired survey, offers a realistic and guardedly pessimistic view of the financial and political landscape of the country.

We understand and agree with many of the concerns voiced by adults 18-29 — who comprise 27 percent of the country’s population — and join in the belief that something has to change to reverse the downward slope of public confidence that exists. We hope young adults will play a major role in helping to solve the nation’s woes.

Millenials say they don’t have a lot of confidence in our political leaders and are worried about the country’s and their own financial futures. They don’t think our leaders can solve problems, with 46 percent saying they have no confidence in them and just 6 percent saying they are very confident in them. Others said they have varying degrees of confidence.

The survey, conducted nationally during a two-day period in August, was the idea of iOMe Challenge, a group of Green Bay-area residents who enlisted the support of local and national organizations. The online questionnaire was designed and hosted by the St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute in partnership with Toluna, an online research company with 17 offices in 10 countries.

David Wegge, executive director of the college’s research institute, said the survey results indicate that young adults believe solutions are better found in getting directly involved in community needs rather than relying on state or federal officials to make a difference.

Asked who they trust the most to solve the nation’s problems, 22 percent said President Barack Obama, 14 percent said the Republicans in Congress, 12 percent said the Democrats in Congress, 6 percent said the tea party and 37 percent said they weren’t sure.

The survey also revealed a significant amount of disinterest among millennials, with just 18 percent saying they followed the recent debt ceiling debate closely and only 27 percent admitting they don’t know who their congressional representatives are.

Of the 642 respondents, 33 percent identified themselves as Democrats, 34 percent as Independents, 22 percent as Republicans, 2 percent as tea party backers and 8 percent with other allegiances.

More promisingare some survey results that suggest the age group isn’t bailing out on the country’s problems. Just two of every five say they voted in 2010, but 57 percent say they will vote in the presidential and congressional elections in 2012. Just 11 percent say they expect to be worse off financially in a year.

Political campaign strategists certainly will use statistics such as these in developing their candidates’ game plan because the millennial vote will play a major role in the outcome of 2012 elections, just as they did in 2008.

But if the survey is an indication of that generation’s confidence in political cures, something more than headline-seeking talking points will be needed to get their attention.

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