Wednesday, February 21, 2018

GOP Continues to Drive Young Voters to Democrats

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At the risk of sounding like Cassandra from the Iliad, I have been saying for a long time that the Republican Party has no long term plan for survival given what at times appears as it's deliberate efforts to alienate young voters, minorities, the LGBT community and non-Christians of every faith.  Meanwhile, there are no limits on the extent to which Republicans will prostitute themselves to the NRA, Christofascist extremists and corporate players who will happily buy them off ant the expense of the majority of their constituents.  Yesterday, GOP legislators in Florida displayed utter contempt for students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who traveled to Tallahassee to lobby for changes to Florida's woefully lacking  gun laws.  Rather than display respect for the students, one legislator ranted at the students and then the GOP majority (as the students watched) voted down a motion to take up a ban on assault weapons such as the AR-15 used by Nikolas Cruz when he killed 17 people at the school on Valentine's Day.

A piece in The Week looks at the GOP's continued drive to alienate the  younger generations and argues that past experiences of voters drifting back to the GOP over time may not happen this time around.  Here are article highlights:
Will the former reality TV star currently working part-time in the White House do incalculable long-term damage to the Republican brand? It sure seems like it! After all, President Trump's horror-show of a first year in office has already diminished the number of Americans who self-identify as Republican, endangered GOP congressional majorities, and led prominent conservative intellectuals to abandon the party. . . . it is fair to wonder whether the Trump administration is indeed losing the future.
Still, Michigan State political scientist Matt Grossman recently tried to throw some cold water on the "Republicans are doomed" theory. . . . . Pointing to past Republican nadirs like the post-Watergate era and the end of George W. Bush's tenure, he reminds us that the GOP has recovered from worse fiascos before and that it will likely do so again.
While Grossman's piece is a useful corrective  . . . . it does neglect one critical component of what is happening in the United States today: For over a decade, young people have been voting overwhelmingly for progressives and, more importantly, telling pollsters that they identify with or lean towards supporting the Democratic Party.
If you think that's always been the case, you're wrong — despite the unpopular war in Vietnam and the swirling cultural revolution, Richard Nixon won under-30 voters in 1972. Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter split young voters evenly in 1980, while Reagan and George H.W. Bush crushed it with the young in '84 and '88.
Something remarkable began happening in 2004, though. That's the year John Kerry carried the under-30 vote by 9 points. And the next three presidential elections saw Democrats demolishing their opponents with young people by 34, 23, and 19 points. . . . . There is simply no precedent for such a yawning gap in a party's fortunes with America's youngest voters over the course of four presidential cycles since pollsters started collecting this kind of data. And it is an ominous sign about the future of the Republican Party.
Scholars believe that partisan identification becomes hardened fairly early in our lives. Despite popular tropes about how people start out as starry-eyed idealists and become more conservative with age, the overwhelming majority of Americans do not experience mid-life or late-life political transformations.
With millennials, Democrats have enjoyed roughly a 20-point advantage in party ID since Pew starting asking them the question 14 years ago. Millennials are now the largest living generation and are starting to vote in greater numbers. This is a huge problem for the GOP that both predates and is far bigger than Trump.
But the data gets worse for Republicans the deeper you dig into it. In 2016 exit polling, for instance, 18- to 24-year-olds went more heavily for Hillary Clinton than their older millennial counterparts, suggesting that, if anything, the Republican position is falling apart with the tail end of the millennial generation.
And it gets even worse for the GOP: A 2017 Pew poll found that fully a quarter of young Republicans had defected to the Democrats since 2015.
Nor does the increasing progressivism of America's youngest voters seem to be driven by short-term reactions to particular political figures or developments. Instead, the avocado toast and Instagram set is being driven into the arms of Democrats by their underlying beliefs. An astonishing 66 percent of respondents in that youthful age bracket told Pew that they favor single-payer health care. Nearly three-fourths of the youngest Americans favor gay marriage.
We are likely witnessing the maturation of the most liberal generation of voters since the New Deal. . . . . To reverse their decline, Republicans would have to make inroads either with Generation Xers or with even younger voters.  That is unlikely, to say the least.
My own three children have all fled the GOP despite being raised in a Republican household during their earlier upbringing and actively working on GOP campaigns.  Like the Millennials mentioned in the article, the support a single payer health care system, favor gay marriage and gay rights, and cannot abide the evangelical Christian and white supremacist core of the current GOP base. The more the GOP attacks the Affordable Health Care Act, rescinds gay rights and prostitutes itself to Christofascists and racists, the larger the exodus of younger voters.  

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