Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Millennials and Bernie Sanders, continued.

Following up on Sunday's post on Millennials and Bernie Sanders and the apparent outcome of last night's Iowa Caucus in a "virtual tie" between Sanders and rival Hillary Clinton, here is some more data on the generational divide between supporters of the two Democratic candidates, as reported today by John Cassidy of The New Yorker:
The age gap between Clinton supporters and Sanders supporters was huge. According to the entrance polls, which wrongly predicted a Clinton victory, Sanders got eighty-six per cent of the Democratic vote in the seventeen-to-twenty-four age group, eighty-one per cent in the twenty-five-to-twenty-nine group, and sixty-five per cent in the thirty-to-thirty-nine age group. Clinton, by contrast, was largely reliant on the middle-aged and the elderly. Among forty-something voters, she won by five percentage points. Among the over-fifties, she won by more than twenty per cent.

When you are so heavily reliant on support from older voters, it is tricky to project yourself as the voice of the future....
As I mused on Sunday, it remains to be seen whether the fact that younger voters skew so heavily toward Sanders reflects a generational shift in political attitudes or simply affirms well-worn clich├ęs regarding the passing idealism of youth. Four year ago, at around the same time I was writing about Ron Paul's popularity among young voters in the Republican primaries and caucuses, I quipped to friends that Paul might be described as the Pied Piper of American politics, capturing the imagination of a generation of activists uninspired by the cautious platitudes of candidates favored by party elites. In his own way, Bernie Sanders might be on his way to becoming the Pied Piper of the Democratic Party.

Given shifts in the American political landscape in the last four years and the fragmentation of the Republican primary field, it's hard to know what has happened to the Millennials who backed the 'Ron Paul Revolution' the last time around; I'd love to see some pollsters ask young voters who backed Ron Paul in 2012 who they're supporting in 2016 (at the very least, it seems safe to say that a lot of them have chosen not to back Rand Paul, who hasn't achieved anything the near the level of support his father enjoyed four years ago). I look forward to finding out how securely the Pied Piper mantle rests on Bernie Sanders' shoulders as the 2016 presidential primary season runs its course, but I look forward with even greater curiosity to seeing what becomes of this new youth movement in American politics in the years to come. AMDG.


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