It has long been an article of faith among conservatives that political and cultural liberalism is a phase of youth and that people tend to move to the right as they grow older.
At 70 years of age, I can attest that such is not always the case. And there’s other evidence refuting that old adage.
Henry J. Enten EXPLAINS:
The 1990s culture wars were fought over many social issues that many on the right thought were being redefined from their traditional normals by progressive activists and the liberal media for the next generation. Three of the key points of contention were abortion, gay rights, and recreational drug use. The results from last Tuesday’s election indicates that the right is losing the war on these three issues.
Conservatives were fearful that the minds of America’s youth (that is, those born in 1980 and after) would be infiltrated by secular, liberal ideology. At the fundamental level of political allegiance, they were right: the great majority of those born in 1980 or after are strongly Democratic-leaning.
The president’s anchor among age groups in both 2008 and 2012 was young voters. He won 66% of the votes of 18-24 and 25-29 year-olds in 2008. That percentage shrunk, as he lost support nationwide, to 60% among 25-29 year-olds in 2012 – though this was still more than among any other age group. Importantly, for the long-term Democratic coalition, there was no sign in the exit polls that the Democratic appeal for young voters was abating among those who turned 18 over the past four years: those 18-24 year-old were just as likely to support the president as the 25-29 year-olds.
And those who turned 30 over the past four years have maintained their Democratic allegiance from 2008. The conventional wisdom is that people become more conservative as they age. This isn’t borne out in the research, and 2012 is no exception. The only age group whose vote increased for Obama from 2008 to 2012 was 30-39 year-olds, as those who had formerly been 25-29 years old moved into 30-39 year-old age cohort.