The worst thing to talk about during the holidays is not politics

Linley SandersData Journalist
November 11, 2019, 2:30 PM GMT+0

A quarter of Millennials (25%) are feeling anxious about the prospect of talking politics at the upcoming holidays—but that is not their greatest concern. More are worried about having to discuss their personal life.

A YouGov survey conducted in late September shows that more than politics, Millennials express the most anxiety about the possibility of family members asking about their personal lives. More than a third of Millennials (35%) and one in five (21%) Gen Xers are “very anxious” or “somewhat anxious” about the possibility of this becoming a holiday talking point.

Feel free to ask your grandfather or the nearest Boomer about his or her personal life, though. Just 11 percent of Baby Boomers say this causes any anxiety, while a majority (66%) are “not anxious at all.”

Similarly, one-third of Millennials (34%) shared some level of anxiety about their careers becoming a topic of holiday conversation. That’s more than double the number of Gen Xers (16%) and six times the number of Baby Boomers (5%) who dread being asked employment-related questions.

Politics doesn’t cause the most dread, but the topic carries its share of anxiety. A quarter of Millennials (25%), 16 percent of Generation X, and 13 percent of Baby Boomers are at least somewhat worried about it. Politics ranks among the top three reasons that Americans believe could lead to a family argument this season.

One-third of Millennials (34%) think there could be a family fight this holiday season. Just one in five Gen Xers (21%)and 16 percent of Baby Boomers think it’s likely their family will have an argument during the holiday season. Among those who think there will be a family argument, the most likely reasons cited were long-standing family tensions (46%), general politics (37%), the 2020 presidential race (33%), or money (24%).

Democrats are slightly more anxious (25%) than Republicans (15%), and independents (17%) about the prospect of politics entering holiday conversation. Despite that, a strong majority of each political party says they are “not very anxious” or “not anxious at all” about it. A majority of Democrats (56%), Republicans (54%), and Independents (52%) say that they are “very comfortable” or “somewhat comfortable” verbalizing disagreement if a family member expresses a political opinion they oppose.

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Methodology: Total unweighted sample size was 1,310 US adults, which included 412 Millennials, 332 Gen Xers, and 442 Baby Boomers. The unweighted sample size also included 504 Democrats, 324 Republicans, and 333 Independents. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (ages 18+). Interviews were conducted online between September 25 - 26, 2019.

Image: Getty