Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 21:21 EDT

New Survey Shows California Millennials Ready To Shape California’s Future

May 8, 2012


SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — California’s millennials like living in California, trust its government and education system, and are highly optimistic about its future, according to a survey released today by California Forward (CA Fwd).

The survey examined the perspectives and attitudes of Californians on public policy matters. The results from the millennials, defined in this survey as between 18 and 29 years old, offered a glimpse into the Golden State’s future that is diverse and ambitious. Young Latinos make up 44 percent of survey respondents; 34 percent are Caucasian, 13 percent Asian Pacific Islanders, 6 percent African Americans, and 4 percent other.

While there are some distinctions among the cultural backgrounds, overall, the survey found that young Californians are the best educated generation in the state’s history, impressively career-oriented and strikingly optimistic about the future. In addition, they place a higher level of trust than older generations in both California’s government and its education system to help them achieve their goals, despite the state’s deteriorating economy.

“California’s millennials are a vibrant, educated, socially-engaged and multicultural generation that considers California their ‘beloved home’ and full of opportunity,” said Jim Mayer, CA Fwd executive director. “Their optimism and trust in state government underscores the imperative of ensuring that public services can deliver. Without a focus on results, this confidence will be wasted.”

Overall, the survey indicates 58 percent of young Californians are registered to vote, but only 39 percent of those who registered said they “always” vote, compared to 60 percent of 30-49 year olds and 76 percent of those 65 and up.

According to Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute for Politics at the University of Southern California, these findings indicate it might be time for a radical rethinking in how we educate millennials about governance and the importance of civic participation.

“While millennials are clearly informed and highly vocal about the political and economic realities they face, they tend to see political involvement as something best accomplished through community and volunteer activity, rather than voting. The next challenge will be to channel their enthusiasm and energy into the more traditional aspects of the political process, as well,” said Schnur. “This generation is much less rigidly partisan than older Californians, which may mean a dramatically different political climate in California in the years to come if they do become more involved.”


While it is not surprising that Latinos make up the largest single ethnic group of millennials, the survey underscores that young Latinos are considerably more “aspirational” and optimistic about the state and its future than either Caucasian millennials or older Californians. In fact, 73 percent of Latino millennials surveyed trust state government to make good decisions at least some of the time compared to 61 percent of Caucasians.

“The high level of trust that young Latinos have in California’s government presents a golden opportunity for those young people to help shape the state’s future,” said Arturo Vargas, a member of CA Fwd‘s Leadership Council and executive director of the NALEO Educational Fund. “California’s political leadership should not squander this opportunity, and should actively and honestly engage with young Latinos.”

In addition, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Latino millennials are native-born Californians. They are increasingly better educated and highly driven, and 73 percent give high marks to the state’s educational system, compared to 53 percent of Caucasians. Only 49 percent of older Californians (baby boomers) believe California has excellent schools and universities, according to the survey.

Mike Madrid manages Grassroots Lab, a California public affairs firm, and is a nationally recognized expert on Latino voting trends. He believes the survey indicates that today’s young California Latinos will increasingly be viewing politics and public policy through a different lens than their parents and grandparents. He thinks they will be less focused on the immigrant experience and more focused on middle class issues.

“What we will begin to see over the next decade and beyond is the emergence of Latino values into the mainstream issues like higher education, opening up a business and home ownership,” said Madrid. “These traditional middle class issues have always determined public policy and elections in California.”

The survey was conducted for CA Fwd by Viewpoint Learning, which conducts surveys on business and public policy issues in California. The full survey’s top line results can be viewed at cafwd.org/millennials.


CA Fwd is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization devoted to improving the performance of government in California. It believes that increased emphasis on accountability and transparency will create government that Californians deserve and expect.


  • Even though they are disproportionately impacted by the current economy with a higher unemployment rate at 20 percent, a whopping 94 percent of millennials believe they will achieve their goals
  • 74 percent believe California has excellent schools and universities, compared to just 49 percent of baby boomers
  • 72 percent think California is a great place to raise a family, compared to 48-56 percent in other age groups
  • 70 percent say California attracts ambitious people who want to start their own business, compared to 40 percent of baby boomers
  • 67 percent believe the state offers great opportunities for young people, compared to 39 percent of baby boomers who believe this
  • 66 percent of millennials believe California is an attractive place for business to locate, well above other age groups. Only 31 percent of baby boomers believe this is true.
  • 88 percent are likely or very likely to stay in California for 10 years or longer
  • Two-thirds say California’s education system has prepared them for college and employment, compared with 44% of baby boomers who believe this
  • The economy is more important to millennials (and all age groups) than the environment
  • 94 percent of millennials (and 92 percent of boomers) say the government should focus on policies that help grow and expand the economy
  • 81 percent of millennials (and 70 percent of boomers) say the same about policies designed to protect the environment
  • 76 percent of millennials believe California provides opportunities to people of all races, backgrounds and lifestyles, compared to 63 percent of baby boomers
  • California millennials have a strong commitment toward community service; the majority place a high value on contributing to their community or to society than do their boomer counterparts (78 percent of millennials, 59 percent of boomers)
    CONTACT: Ed Coghlan           Gina Baleria
                    818-489-4774  415-370-8945

SOURCE California Forward

Source: PR Newswire