Americans are a naturally optimistic nation; and the younger they are, the more hope they have: 31% of the underthirties even believe the chaotic occupation of Iraq has made the US safer. Fewer than one in five believe it has made the US less safe, and 38% believe that going to war in Iraq was the right thing to do, compared with 35% of all adults. If you want to find the most antiwar part of the population, you need to look at senior citizens, not the young. ~Andrew Sullivan

Of course, these results would tend to confirm my view that “optimistic” is just a brief way of saying “not paying much attention” or “not knowing very much.”  These results might be said to embody “the folly of youth” in statistical form.  These results also reinforce just how much I am totally unlike the people in my age group.  I am pessimistic, antiwar and conservative–it doesn’t get much more atypical than that.

Sullivan points to some other interesting items:

A solid 43% of the underthirties, moreover, believe being gay is a choice, compared with only 34% of the general population.

This is rather remarkable, since it seems to me that this is the social conservative view of homosexuality and one that tends to align with opposition to homosexuality.  It is the essentialists who claim that there is something so predetermined about sexuality that choice is almost beside the point, and it is curious that the generation that is supposed to be more accepting of homosexuality thinks of it as a “choice.”  Perhaps most of them think of it as a choice no different from any others, but a belief that it is something voluntary and chosen makes their attitudes towards it much more malleable than if they believed that it was some ineluctable product of nature.

There’s bad news for Obama for the under-30 set:

Seventy-four per cent said that most people they know [bold mine-DL] would not vote for a president who had ever used cocaine.

The old “most people they know” response is a good indication of what the respondents actually believe.  No one would want to appear puritanical and rule out voting for a former coke user, but lots of people are perfectly happy to say that all their friends are very much against such people.  This seems counterintuitive to me.  It seemed to me that people my age would be even less concerned about a candidate’s drug use than their parents (and it is still possible that they may be marginally less concerned), but that is a huge number of people who would refuse to vote for a candidate simply because of such a habit.  Don’t get me wrong–I think this is an unusually healthy sign for the future.  It is nonetheless slightly surprising.