Are Younger Democrats Turning More Libertarian?

Thanks to today’s Morning Jolt, I was alerted to this NYT story that I might otherwise have missed.

Although a majority of younger voters today are reliably Democratic, there are key issues on which they differ notably from their elders within the center-left coalition. The July Pew survey identifies two predominantly white core Democratic constituencies: the “solid liberals” of the traditional left, which is 69 percent white, with an average age of 46, who exhibit deep progressive commitments on both economic and social issues; and younger voters, 68 percent white, with an average age of 38, which Pew calls the “next generation left.”

The two groups were asked to choose whether “most people can get ahead if they’re willing to work hard” or whether “hard work and determination are no guarantee of success for most people.” A decisive majority of the older “solid liberal” group, 67 percent, responded that hard work is no guarantee of success, while an even larger majority, 77 percent, of the younger “next generation left” believes that you can get ahead if you are willing to work hard.

According to Pew, the older group believes, 73-20, that “government should do more to solve problems.” Only 44 percent of the younger group agrees — and of younger respondents, 50 percent believe that “government is trying to do too much.”

Eighty-three percent of the older group of Democratic voters believes that “circumstances” are to blame for poverty; only 9 percent blame “a lack of effort.” The younger group of pro-Democratic voters is split, with 47 percent blaming circumstances and 42 percent blaming lack of effort. An overwhelming majority of the older cohort, 83-12, believes that “government should do more to help needy Americans, even if it means more debt,” while a majority of the younger Democratic respondents, 56-39, believes “government cannot afford to do much more.”

A 56 percent majority of the younger group of Democrats believes that “Wall Street helps the American economy more than it hurts,” with just 36 percent believing that Wall Street hurts the economy. Older Democrats have almost exactly the opposite view. 56 percent believe that Wall Street hurts the economy; 36 percent believe it helps.

One area of major divergence between young and old Democrats is race.

Asked by Pew to choose between two statements — “Racial discrimination is the main reason why many blacks can’t get ahead” and “Blacks who can’t get ahead are mostly responsible for their own condition” – the older Democratic cohort blamed discrimination, by an 80 to 10 margin. In contrast, only 19 percent of the younger group of Democrats blamed discrimination, with 68 percent saying that blacks “are mostly responsible for their own condition.”

Some 91 percent of the older group said the “U.S. needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights,” and just 6 percent said the “U.S. has made the changes needed to give blacks equal rights.” 67 percent of the younger group said the United States has done enough for blacks, and 28 percent said that the country needs to do more to give blacks equal rights.

The leftistmedia loves to hype the idea of a schism on the right, but this data could point to a coming schism on the left. The older generation of Democrats also make up the vast majority of past and present elected Democrats, including Obama (age 52), Nancy Pelosi (age 74), Harry Reid (also 74), and even the supposed Democratic nominee (though I don’t think she’s running), Hillary (age 66). These older Democrats clearly believe in the “big government” approach to problems, but according to the data above, the younger Democrats are either on the fence about the effectiveness of such an approach, or are convinced it just doesn’t work.

This is a huge problem for any Democrat running on a “government should do more” platform in 2016 and beyond, because every year there are fewer and fewer of the older Democrats.


Conservative Wanderer is currently Editor-in-Chief of That's Freedom You Hear! That means anything that goes wrong can be blamed on him. Previously he was a contributor to the PJ Tatler.

Posted in Democratic Party, Elections

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