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June 27, 2007

The Kids Are Alright

According to a new New York Times/CBS poll, they're not only alright, they're downright Democratic. They disapprove of Bush's handling on, well, everything, would vote Democratic by a margin of 54%-32%, and 58% have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party while only 38% are positively inclined towards the Republicans. The one surprising result is their pessimism: 48% think their generation will be worse off than their parent's generation, while only 25% think they'll be better off.

Whether for that or another reason, they seem to have more trust in government than their parent's do:

Younghealthcarepoll

The kids are much better than alright: They're collectivists! My hunch is coming of political age after the fall of the Soviet Union and the Reagan era will leave you much less skeptical of government than having endured through the period when "big government" meant a murderous and hegemonic regime we were in an undeclared war with, and the nation's dominant political party demonized the state in exactly those terms. As Ruy Teixeira and John Judis explain in the latest issue of TAP:

The Democratic majority in 2006 was also bolstered by support from voters ages 18 to 29. Almost all of these voters fall into the category that pollsters call "millennials" or "Generation Y" (those born after 1977). In contrast to the previous generation, dubbed "Generation X" (those born between 1965 and 1977), they prefer Democrats over Republicans and the center-left over the center-right. According to a 2006 Pew survey, 48 percent of 18- to 25-year-old millennials identify themselves as Democrats, and only 35 percent identify themselves as Republicans. In 2006, 18- to-29-year-olds voted for Democratic congressional candidates by 60 percent to 38 percent. By contrast, 55 percent of 18- to 25-year-old Generation Xers had identified themselves as Republicans in the early 1990s. Political generations don't often change their allegiance. The New Deal generation sustained a Democratic majority for decades; Generation X has remained a bulwark of the Republican vote; and the millennials can be expected to bolster a new Democratic majority.

Clearly, different political experiences have shaped these two generations. Generation X grew up during the Carter and Reagan years, which were marked by Democratic failure and Republican success. The millennials grew up in years of the Clinton boom and Bush's disastrous failure in Iraq. Their political outlook most clearly resembles that of postindustrial professionals: socially liberal, in favor of government regulation of business, more secular, and less inclined than any other generation to accept the Republican identification with the religious right. In a 2006 Pew survey, 20 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds reported they had no religion or were atheist or agnostic, compared with just 11 percent among those over 25.

If these trends endure -- and unlike other shifts in the past few years, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that Democrats have achieved lock-in with millenials -- the Left is going to have a much stronger base from which to build over the next few years.

June 27, 2007 in Polls | Permalink

Comments

"The kids are alright"

Stop using this phrase! It's such an annoying cliche!

Posted by: barack obama | Jun 27, 2007 10:16:42 AM

Kids are always collectivist -- that is, until they grow up and have a better understanding of the trade-offs.

Posted by: Jason | Jun 27, 2007 10:32:35 AM

Jason- As the child of two Boomers who grew up in moderate/apolitical families and turned into leftists, I can assure you that you're misusing the word always. Not only that, but people who are more educated and presumably "understand the tradeoffs" better also tend to be more liberal.

Ezra- What I think is at least as exciting as this is the signs that these kids are more politically interested and active than they have been in a long time. It's why I love Barack Obama even though I'm not sure I'd vote for him (in the primary). He sure gets people energized.

Posted by: Sam L. | Jun 27, 2007 10:40:56 AM

This reflects what I've seen in my own experience as well. Certainly some will get more conservative as they get older, but I'm optimistic that most will stay fairly progressive, especially on social issues.

than their parent's do

Aargh! Ditch that apostrophe! Parents is plural, not possessive.

Posted by: Chris Howard | Jun 27, 2007 10:42:05 AM

The best thing for the 'kids' is that they missed the Reagan era and so go forth into the world without the gauzy feeling of godhood that somehow Reagan's thought police injected into a generation. Talk about an addiction!

Bonus! George W. Bush as the Republican/Conservative attempt as godhood should act as a cautionary warning of what you get with 'compassionate conservatism': lies, political hacks and thieves, stupid wars, bungled everything, unlawful government, Karl Rove, Tony Snow, and...... Dicked by Cheney!

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jun 27, 2007 10:53:10 AM

"gauzy feeling of godhood"
...........
what great writing!
and so early in the morning!
a phrase like that can make one's day!
almost as good as morning coffee!
(well, maybe brown sugar on oatmeal...coffee's a stretch)
thanks!

Posted by: jacqueline | Jun 27, 2007 11:06:39 AM

Jason, it says right there in the piece ezra excerpted:

"By contrast, 55 percent of 18- to 25-year-old Generation Xers had identified themselves as Republicans in the early 1990s."

Posted by: josh bivens | Jun 27, 2007 11:09:39 AM

It doesn't help the GOP's image any that young affluent white dudes who go far-right are fervidly trained to be complete assholes to everybody by blowhards like Rush and Bill O'.

Posted by: Chowchowchow | Jun 27, 2007 11:26:57 AM

Missing out on the Reagan era caused two things-- first, as JimPortlandOR points out, the generation didn't get corrupted by the fuzzy-Peggy-Noonan-style worship/nostalgia of/for Reagan conservatism. Next, even those who were liberally inclined during the 80s ended up drifting towards liberal-but-contrarians-style moderation, because that was the "intellectual" thing to do back in the 80s. Without that baggage, GenY'ers are naturally going to be more liberal. Bush sort of exacerbated the situation, of course, by making the cornerstone of his presidency an appeal to social reactionaries, with which young people have no connection and aren't going to end up joining any time soon.

Jason, even if some political opinions may change as voters get older, their cultural/political identity is going to be more firmly entrenched with the Democratic party than the Republican party.

Posted by: Tyro | Jun 27, 2007 11:40:48 AM

My hunch is coming of political age after the fall of the Soviet Union and the Reagan era will leave you much less skeptical of government than having endured through the period when "big government" meant a murderous and hegemonic regime we were in an undeclared war with, and the nation's dominant political party demonized the state in exactly those terms.

Seconded. I'm probably not the only person who thinks red-baiting trolls miss their mark badly, almost hilariously, when they use terms like "collectivist" or "socialist" or whatever as their insult of choice for us eeevil liberals. Partly by revealing a gross misunderstanding of the situation (I thought it was Muslims we were supposed to be scared of?), but mostly by the fact that, um, you know, people who were born after the Berlin Wall fell are now old enough to vote*. It wouldn't be as bizarre as calling someone a "kraut," but...

* Okay, so I looked it up, and that's not literally true yet, but it will be by the next election. So sue me.

Posted by: Cyrus | Jun 27, 2007 11:43:32 AM

I thought the younger set was more bloodthirsty about war, though.

I'm right on the cusp of Gens Y and X (born in 1977), but I spend a lot of time around people a couple years younger, and I pick up on a fair bit of reactionary, anti-hippie disdain for the anti-war "movement." Think South Park.

Anecdotal, of course, but I thought that polling had affirmed this as well.

Posted by: Jason G. | Jun 27, 2007 12:02:04 PM

Chris Howard,

Maybe your parents aren't possessive...

Posted by: TJ | Jun 27, 2007 12:04:07 PM

The figure from the poll which you, Ruy T and JJ conveniently overlook is that more young people think we will succeed in Iraq than the population as a whole. Here's my post on it: http://www.campusprogress.org/page/community/post/zachmarks/C2lN

Posted by: ZachMarks | Jun 27, 2007 1:28:49 PM

Yeah, Ezra, I was hoping you would deal with the polling info about Iraq: "The poll also found that they [young Americans] are more likely to say the war in Iraq is heading to a successful conclusion." Huh?

The NYT article didn't explain this very well. Evidently, young people are always more optimistic about U.S. military adventures than the general population. That might be true, but I still don't understand it, and I certainly don't see how it fits in with the rest of the data.

Posted by: davep | Jun 27, 2007 1:42:21 PM

{paraphrase} Approval of Bush in this 17-29 age cohort was 80% after 9/11, down to 28% today.

9/11 was six years ago. About half the then-17-to-29-year-olds are no longer in this cohort. About half the 2007 cohort consists of kids who were age 11-16 on 9/11. Does this have any effect on the 2001/2007 comparison? I don't know. But I'd feel better about the pollsters if they'd mentioned that they'd thought about it.

Posted by: Stuart Eugene Thiel | Jun 27, 2007 9:27:10 PM

Thank goodness these kids still don't vote!

Posted by: Christina | Jun 29, 2007 3:05:29 PM

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Posted by: judy | Oct 8, 2007 8:30:49 AM

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