, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 504-511
Date: 11 Sep 2008

Is There an Emerging Age Gap in US Politics?

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Abstract

There is evidence of a realignment among voters entering the electorate in recent years, with younger voters deviating from older voters in their ideological and partisan preferences. Younger voters today tend to be more liberal and more supportive of Democratic candidates than other age groups. Younger Americans are generally favor a more activist government, as demonstrated by their views on equality, the role of government, health care, and spending for public schools and child care. The leftward movement of younger Americans ideologically is also the result of the increasing political emphasis on cultural issues. Younger Americans as a group are less religious and less conservative on social issues than other age cohorts. They put less emphasis on traditional values and are more tolerant than other age groups on social issues such as gay rights. Older voters, on the other hand, tend to be more conservative on policy issues and less supportive of Democrats than they used to be. At the state level, the partisan polarization in the United States is even greater among younger Americans than it is for the nation as a whole. This suggests that if younger Americans follow other generations in keeping the same partisan voting patterns throughout their life, the blue states will become bluer and the red states redder.