Sunday, June 24, 2012

The New Generation Gap

David Leonhardt:
Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, younger and older adults voted in largely similar ways, with a majority of each supporting the winner in every presidential election. Sometime around 2004, though, older voters began moving right, while younger voters shifted left. This year, polls suggest that Mitt Romney will win a landslide among the over-65 crowd and that President Obama will do likewise among those under 40.

Beyond political parties, the two have different views on many of the biggest questions before the country. The young not only favor gay marriage and school funding more strongly; they are also notably less religious, more positive toward immigrants, less hostile to Social Security cuts and military cuts and more optimistic about the country’s future. They are both more open to change and more confident that life in the United States will remain good.
The optimism of young Americans is especially striking, since they are doing much worse economically than older Americans. We see once again that money is not everything. Older Americans have the money but fear a future in which white Americans cease to be a majority, gay culture goes mainstream and the world of the 50s disappears forever.

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