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October 29, 2006

My generation

pattyfacebook.gif

The real race may be tight, but Patty Wetterling is winning by a landslide on Facebook. In fact, most of the Democratic candidates are doing well, though Mike Hatch is trailing Pawlenty slightly.

Of course, this is all anecdotal, and it doesn't really mean anything. But I think the phenomenon of today's youth supporting Democratic candidates is real. My generation, having come of age during the good years of Clinton and the bad years of Bush, will be one of the most Democratic ever, according to this NYT article and the accompanying graphic, which is very cool.

From the article:

Turning momentary popularity into a more lasting majority, of course, takes more than a midterm election. For one thing, voters typically develop a party preference based on the political atmosphere at the time they come of age and grow more attached to that party over the course of their lives. The voters who came of age in the 1930’s, for example, have remained the most solidly Democratic. Fifty-seven percent are Democrats and only 38 percent are Republican, according to the American National Election Study.

Recent surveys and exit polls suggest that the Democrats have regained the upper hand among the young voters who entered the electorate over the last 15 years, and political scientists say dismay at the Iraq war is likely to prolong that trend.

“The longer Bush’s approval ratings stay in the mid-30’s, the more lost young Republicans there will be in the next generation,? said Donald P. Green, a political scientist at Yale. But by the same rule, voters who came of age in the Reagan era are reliably Republican. Voters around the age of 36 are the only age group in which Republicans outnumber Democrats, according to 2006 surveys by the Pew Research Center. And it will be decades before they pass through the populace, “like an elephant through a boa constrictor,? Professor Hansen said.

Currently, of those who turned 20 under the GW Bush presidency, Democrats outnumber Republicans 52-37. Of course, the CW is that as people get older, they get more conservative... this remains to be seen. (Looking at the polls for the Wetterling/Bachmann race, the opposite seems to be true--in the most recent SurveyUSA poll, Bachmann has her strongest support from those under 50, while Wetterling is preferred by those over 50; Bachmann has her strongest support in Gen Y, and it declines steadily after that.)