Rand Paul Not So Hip

The undermining of the suggestions made (less by the author than by those he interviews) in Robert Draper’s “Libertarian Moment” piece for the New York Times Magazine struck new earth yesterday with Harry Enten’s questioning of the rather central assumption that the supposed avatar of the “moment,” Rand Paul, has a special appeal to young people.

Turns out once you look at generational breakouts Paul does no better among voters 18-29 or 18-34 than does Chris Christie in trial heats against Hillary Clinton–and both perform pretty dreadfully. Jonathan Chait piles on by reminding us from 2010 exit polls that under-30 voters were the only age demographic Paul lost in his winning Senate race against Democrat Jack Conway.

It’s a reminder the whole “libertarian moment” thing is a house of cards. Paul is a sorta-libertarian; young folks are sorta-“libertarian” on some issues (not always the same ones as Paul); Republicans could sorta look more libertarian with someone like Paul as a presidential nominee; leading to the possibility of a sorta kinda breakout by Republicans from what Chait in another column calls the GOP’s “geriatric trap.” It’s all sorta persuasive unless you think about it for an hour or so.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.