The Pew Research Center’s latest report notes, “Trends in the opinions of America’s youngest voters are often a barometer of shifting political winds.” If so, the winds are at Democrats’ backs, and will be for a quite a while. While young people shifted to the Democratic Party a bit in the 1990s, the bottom fell out for the GOP and younger voters during Bush’s presidency.
In 1992, Republicans enjoyed a slight edge in party identification among 18-29 year olds, 47% to 46%. Four years later, Democrats claimed a six-point edge, 50% to 44%. By the time of the 2000 election, Democrats’ lead had expanded slightly to eight points, 49% to 41%.
And voters under the age of 30 have been making a beeline from the Republican Party ever since. In 2004, Democrats’ lead among young voters’ party ID expanded to 11 points, 51% to 40%. And in 2008, the margin became a landslide — Democrats 58%, Republicans 33%.
What’s striking is not just the one-sided nature of young voters’ preferences, but the speed with which the change occurred. As recently as the 2002 midterms, voters aged 18 to 29 split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. In the 2006 midterms, they backed Democrats, 63% to 33%. Between 2004 and 2008, the party ID shift has more than doubled in Dems’ direction.
The change is also broadly based. From the Pew report:
In fact, the Democrats’ advantage among the young is now so broad-based that younger men as well as younger women favor the Democrats over the GOP — making their age category the only one in the electorate in which men are significantly more inclined to self-identify as Democrats rather than as Republicans.
While more women voters in every age group affiliate with the Democratic Party rather than the GOP, the gap is particularly striking among young women voters; more than twice as many women voters under age 30 identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party as favor the Republican Party (63% vs. 28%).
Talk about your emerging Democratic majority.