A major, multi-mode survey of America’s young people recently conducted by
Democracy Corps shows young people profoundly alienated from the Republican Party and
poised to deliver a significant majority to the Democratic nominee for President in 2008.
The political stakes with this generation could not be higher. In 2008, young people
(ages 18-31) will number 50 million, bigger than the baby boom generation. By 2015 they will likely comprise one-third of the U.S. electorate. While participation among young people still lags well behind other generations, turnout increased two election cycles in a row and, in 2004, jumped nine points (to 49 percent). In 2004, younger voters were the only generational cohort outside of the World War II generation to support John Kerry (56 percent). In 2006, younger voters supported Democrats by a 60 – 38 percent margin, the highest of any generation.
The looming disaster Republicans face among younger voters represents a setback that could haunt them for many generations to come. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama lead Rudy Giuliani—the most acceptable of the Republican offerings among youth—by significant margins, assembling a diverse coalition of support and leading the vote among independents. Exploring attitudes toward the parties themselves, young voters’ reaction to fundamental issues and their perceptions of the GOP suggest a fundamental alienation from the Republican Party, a crisis that will not leave with the Bush administration.
Young people react with hostility to the Republicans on almost every measure and
Republicans and younger voters disagree on almost every major issue of the day. The range of he issue disagreements range from the most prominent issues of the day (Iraq, immigration) to burning social issues (gay marriage, abortion) to fundamental ideological disagreements over the size and scope of government. This leaves both potential Democratic nominees with substantial leads over Rudy Giuliani, but importantly, both Democrats still have room to grow their support among younger voters. The current problems with the Republican brand are not fully reflected in young people’s preferences in for President.