The beginning of the end for Republicans?

The generation gap has received plenty of coverage here, there, and everywhere.  Republicans are old and dying off and Democrats have a large advantage among young voters.  For now, this works great for Republicans in midterm elections where older voters are far more reliable.  But, of course, these young voters are going to become middle-aged and much more reliable (that bit about people becoming more conservative as they age is largely a myth).

Pew has undertaken a massive (i.e., 10,000 survey participants) study of generation and political views and the news is not encouraging for conservatives.  Among Republicans (identifiers and leaners) Millennials are significantly less conservative than older Republicans.  And this is a GOP-only phenomenon.  Here’s the key chart:

Wide Ideological Divide by Generation, Particularly Stark Within the GOP

And some further elaboration:

In short, not only are Millennials less likely than older generations to identify as Republicans, but even those who do express significantly less conservative values than do their elders….

The generational divisions among Republicans span different dimensions of political values. Some of the most striking generational differences within Republicans concern social issues like homosexuality and immigration, but younger Republicans are also less conservative when it comes to values related to the environment, role of government, the social safety net and the marketplace. [emphasis mine]

Well, that’s most of the big stuff.  I saw a rather eminent Political Scientist comment on FB that 2014 is the high water mark for the Republican party.  And there’s a pretty good case for that.  But I think Yglesias’ take makes a lot of sense as well:

On the other hand, this also points to the fact that predictions of a demographically driven enduring Democratic Party majority are mistaken. As older Republicans die off and younger Republicans step to the forefront, the GOP will advance views that are different from those of today’s GOP, views that will be more palatable to the more left-leaning electorate that is emerging.

The degree to which this is bad for the future of Republicans actually remains to be seen.  The degree to which this is bad for people who hold political viewpoints currently deemed “conservative” is quite clear.  Who knows, when my kids are grown ups maybe political campaigns will be marked by Democrats proudly proclaiming their liberalism while Republicans hide from being labeled conservative.  A guy can dream.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to The beginning of the end for Republicans?

  1. rgbact says:

    I can’t believe people still attempt serious political surveys and base their data on adults and not actual voters. Sure, theres alot of silly liberals out there….but thankfully they don’t vote. We’ve got a midterm coming up where senior turnout will likely double youth turnout. Meanwhile, liberals keep pumping out surveys about how the youth vote is the pot of gold for Democrat dominance.

    The youth vote even went for Carter in 1980. Any study that denies people get more conservative as they age is just partisan blather. .

  2. Mike from Canada says:

    “As older Republicans die off and younger Republicans step to the forefront, the GOP will advance views that are different from those of today’s GOP, views that will be more palatable to the more left-leaning electorate that is emerging.”

    I wonder about this considering so far conservatives seem to be ostracizing and excising people in the party in power who are not of sufficient conservative purity, how long would it take for the younger generations to have an effect on the party? How long will it take for them to gain positions of power within the party? If it takes too long will they give up and try to create a fourth party or grass roots group?

    What would they be called, the Green Tea Party?

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