In November of 2011 the Pew Research Center published the results of a study, “The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election”. A quote:
Not since 1972 has generation played such a significant role in voter preferences as it has in recent elections. Younger people have voted substantially more Democratic in each election since 2004, while older voters have cast more ballots for Republican candidates in each election since 2006.
The latest national polls suggest this pattern may continue in 2012.
The study is worth a read. As a reminder:
The current contentiousness between the major political parties is evident as we flip open our daily paper each morning or click on our favorite news website. This divergence among generations adds yet another fractured dimension.
Of greatest interest to BTS are the Pew Research Center survey findings about Boomers.
- In recent years Boomers increasingly call themselves conservatives. They voted for Republican candidates in 2010, but are still on the fence for the 2012 Presidential Election.
- Older Boomers tilt Democratic while younger Boomers tilt Republican. When asked to name the best President during their lifetime, Boomers were evenly divided between Clinton and Reagan.
- Younger Boomers and Generation Xers have been one of the most reliable Republican voting groups.
- All generations agreed that the federal government does too little for older people. Ironically, a majority of Boomers favor a smaller government presence in spite of being supportive of big government in their 20s and 30s.
- Boomer’s anxiety about their financial situation has increased. More than half say they are in worse financial shape than they were before 2008. More than 1/3 are not confident that they will have enough money during retirement. Only Millenials are less confident about their future finances.
- Similar to all generations, Boomers are against cutting entitlement benefits to reduce the federal deficit. A majority of all generations support means-tested Social Security and Medicare benefits. But, unlike the Silent Generation, Boomers oppose raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare. Of all the generations, only the Millenials favor private accounts for Social Security and private insurers for Medicare.
- Jobs are the number one voting issue for Boomers, Generation X, and Millenials. Social Security is the top priority for the Silent Generation.
Millenials are the most Democratic and the most liberal on most social, governmental, and foreign policy issues. One can’t help but wonder if voters become more conservative as they age, or if Millenials are a new generation of liberal voters. The research is not definitive. Some studies indicate that philosophical difference can be attributed to the time period in which you grew up. Big events affect the voting patterns of individuals as a voting bloc – the Vietnam War, Woodstock, Watergate, civil rights, gay rights, and the women’s movement for Boomers. If that is true, what are today’s big events and how will that affect future voting patterns?