THE EMERGING DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY?….Matt Yglesias is right: this is an interesting chart. (It’s too big to post on the blog, so you’ll have to click on the link to see it.)
The theory behind it, I guess, is that the political climate when you’re age 20 affects your party preference for your entire life. The hypothesis would go something like this: popular presidents produce a swing among 20-year-olds to their own party, and unpopular ones produce a swing in the other direction.
A look at the chart suggests this is almost true. If you push the whole thing forward by about four years, so that you’re looking at 24-year-olds, it looks to me like the administrations of FDR, Truman, Kennedy/Johnson, and Clinton produced swings toward Democrats, while Jimmy Carter didn’t. Likewise, Eisenhower, Reagan, and Bush Sr. produced swings toward Republicans, while Nixon/Ford, and Bush Jr. didn’t. The political climate during your early 20s seems to scar you for life.
Of course, what’s really most remarkable about the chart is the fantastic shift toward the Democrats in the 20-30 age group. The delta among this cohort between Democrats and Republicans is about +15 in the Democrats’ favor, a bigger number than even the Vietnam/Watergate generation. It looks to me like the Christian right’s social neanderthalism is causing the Republican Party to lose a generation forever.