college campus protest
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Obviously, I am not in an optimistic mood today, but there are still at least theoretical hopes for the future, if there is a future. For example, there are the young people.

Women are more Democratic than men, and younger voters are more Democratic than older ones. The former has been true for decades, and the latter is a trend that’s at least 10 or 15 years old. But a new Pew survey using a huge sample to allow for insight into demographic details shows that the intersection of these two trends is staggeringly large.

Among millennials, which Pew identifies as people born between 1981 and 1996, men lean toward Democrats by 8 percentage points — far and away a bigger tilt toward Democrats than older cohorts of men. But millennial women favor Democrats by a staggeringly large 70-23 margin.

Fewer than one in four women born after 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected president, prefer the Republicans to the Democrats. And even the men show a significant preference for the Democrats. Now, it’s often said with some justification that people grow more conservative with age. Simple tax aversion would tend to move people in that direction. Studies that show fear is a common component in conservative views probably explain the rest of the drift. People in their teens and twenties often feel invulnerable, especially when compared to people suffering the ravages of middle and old age.

But, on the other hand, there are studies that show that most people never abandon the political views of their youth, especially if we’re not talking about political views they’ve simply inherited from their parents. There will no doubt be plenty of churn in how individual millennials view the world, but it looks locked in now that this will be a generation that strongly rejects conservative views on a host of issues.

Eventually I think we’ll get to some inflection point, much like we did on gay marriage. The Republican Party is a vehicle that can carry any kind of passengers. For a long time now, it has been kicking moderates out of the doors and taking on more conservative riders, but eventually they’ll stop this practice and reverse it. Either that, or they’ll grow weaker and weaker until they resemble the GOP of the early 1960s.

Just as the GOP made a comeback after Barry Goldwater, largely by sticking with his conservatism and adding a large dose of law and order segregationist racism, the GOP will make a comeback from their next nadir. But I don’t think it will be as a conservative party.

But if any of this is going to happen, we have to survive to get there.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at