For a lot of the 20th century, younger and outdated individuals voted fairly equally. The defining gaps in our latest politics have been the gender hole (ladies preferring Democrats) and the training hole. But now the technology hole is again, with a vengeance.
This is most instantly evident in the best way Democrats are sorting themselves of their early main preferences. A Democratic voter’s race, intercourse or training stage doesn’t predict which candidate she or he is leaning towards, however age does.
In one early New Hampshire ballot, Joe Biden received 39 % of the vote of these over 55, however simply 22 % of these below 35, trailing Bernie Sanders. Similarly, in an early Iowa ballot, Biden received 41 % of the oldster vote, however simply 17 % of the younger grownup vote, putting third, behind Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
As Ronald Brownstein identified in The Atlantic, older Democrats favor a extra average candidate who they assume can win. Younger Democrats favor a extra progressive candidate who they assume can convey systemic change.
The technology hole is much more highly effective in the case of Republicans. To put it bluntly, younger adults hate them.
In 2018, voters below 30 supported Democratic House candidates over Republican ones by an astounding 67 % to 32 %. A 2018 Pew survey found that 59 percent of millennial voters identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, while only 32 percent identify as Republicans or lean Republican.
The difference is ideological. According to Pew, 57 percent of millennials call themselves consistently liberal or mostly liberal. Only 12 percent call themselves consistently conservative or mostly conservative. This is the most important statistic in American politics right now.
Recent surveys of Generation Z voters (those born after 1996) find that, if anything, they are even more liberal than millennials.
In 2002, John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira wrote a book called “The Emerging Democratic Majority,” which predicted electoral doom for the G.O.P. based on demographic data. That prediction turned out to be wrong, or at least wildly premature.
The authors did not foresee how older white voters would swing over to the Republican side and the way many assimilated Hispanics would vote like non-Hispanic whites. The failure of that book’s predictions has scared people off from making demographic forecasts.
But it’s hard to look at the generational data and not see long-term disaster for Republicans. Some people think generations get more conservative as they age, but that is not borne out by the evidence. Moreover, today’s generation gap is not based just on temporary intellectual postures. It is based on concrete, lived experience that is never going to go away.
Unlike the Silent Generation and the boomers, millennials and Gen Z voters live with difference every single day. Only 16 percent of the Silent Generation is minority, but 44 percent of the millennial generation is. If you are a millennial in California, Texas, Florida, Arizona or New Jersey, ethnic minorities make up more than half of your age cohort. In just over two decades, America will be a majority-minority country.
Young voters approve of these trends. Seventy-nine percent of millennials think immigration is good for America. Sixty-one percent think racial diversity is good for America.
They have constructed an ethos that is mostly about dealing with difference. They are much more sympathetic to those who identify as transgender. They are much more likely than other groups to say that racial discrimination is the main barrier to black progress. They are much less likely to say the U.S. is the best country in the world.
These days the Republican Party looks like a direct reaction against this ethos — against immigration, against diversity, against pluralism. Moreover, conservative thought seems to be getting less relevant to the America that is coming into being.
Matthew Continetti recently identified the key blocs on the new right in an essay in The Washington Free Beacon. These included the Jacksonians (pugilistic populists), the Paleos (Tucker Carlson-style economic nationalists), the Post-Liberals (people who oppose pluralism and seek a return to pre-Enlightenment orthodoxy). To most young adults, these tendencies will look like cloud cuckooland.
The most burning question for conservatives should be: What do we have to say to young adults and about the diverse world they are living in? Instead, conservative intellectuals seem hellbent on taking their 12 percent share among the young and turning it to 3.
There is a conservative way to embrace pluralism and diversity. It’s to point out that there is a deep strain of pessimism in progressive multiculturalism: blacks and whites will never really understand each other; racism is endemic; the American project is fatally flawed; American structures are so oppressive, the only option is to burn them down.
A better multiculturalism would be optimistic: We can communicate across difference; the American creed is the right recipe for a thick and respectful pluralism; American structures are basically sound and can be realistically reformed.
So far that’s not visible. My mentor William F. Buckley vowed to stand athwart history yelling “Stop!” Today’s Republicans don’t even seem to see the train that is running them over.
The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: email@example.com.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.
Get more stuff like this
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.