New Poll Calls Out Millennial Ignorance, But We Think They Forgot a Few Things

February 4th 2015

Alicia Lutes

Oh, young people, don't make me do it. Don't make me chide all of us collectively for our ignorance in front of the smug adults who are already far too keen to label us as apathetic. Because that's what this new polling information from Fusion — called the Massive Millennial Poll — is making me feel like I have to do. Particularly the part where they claim the majority of Millennials can't name a single senator from their home state. 

Why, it wasn't long ago that Time Magazine was touting Millennials as being more civically minded than previous generations, but apparently, that's only to a point. In Fusion's new poll, conducted over the first two weeks of January 2015, 77 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds could not name one single US senator from their home state. Not one.

But it also caused us to stop and ask ourselves: how does that stack up to other, older generations? We've all seen Man on the Street segments — we know how uninformed the general American public is: so is this really a Millennial problem, or just more of the same from the overall largely cynical and wildly uninformed American public? Hey, the truth hurts.

Well, it's a bit of a mixed bag, but by and large? The numbers are fairly much in line with the knowledge-amassing of the past. As it turns out there are a lot of things a ton of Americans do not — but should — know. In 2011, Newsweek gave 1,000 citizens America’s official citizenship test and 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president.  According to a 1991 poll where Americans were asked how long the term of a United States senator is, only 25% answered correctly (psst: it's six years). As for the number of senators? Only 20% polled knew the answer (100). 

Those numbers haven't really changed much over time — at least in the last 75 years. And there are a heck of a lot of polls and research to prove that, comparatively speaking, things are by and large the same. So, you know, it's probably less about how ~stupid and narcissistic~ Millennials are because it's all relative, isn't it?

And that's another thing: political ignorance, while condemnable, doesn't mean that Millennials are necessarily stupid. Far from it, in fact. Millennials — holding on tight to that American Dream we were promised — are actually more educated. Consider Vocativ's own research (with data compiled from the Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Centers for Disease Control), which states that younger types are actually more educated and less rabble-rouser-y than any previous generation. At least this might bode well.