Author: Carol

The Age Gap is a Trend

The Age Gap is a Trend

Op-Ed: The neglect of younger voters is a lost opportunity for political parties to grow in their popularity

The last few days have seen the rise of the “age gap” debate, where older voters have been accused of voting based on their own experience and experiences of “life” rather than their party’s values and policies. This idea goes back to the 1980s when the idea that voters were more mature, and therefore more responsible, and therefore more mature voters, started showing up.

In 2008, the first year in which they were put on the issue, the older voters backed Obama 53% to 47% over John McCain. The difference was not significant enough to account for Romney’s 1.3 million voter margin in the state, but the Republicans still managed to make gains among older voters, especially women.

What has been interesting in this election — and I don’t want to make claims on whether that’s the last election, but it certainly will be — has not been the gender gap, but the age gap. Obama has a slight advantage among older voters. However, he is losing to Romney among young voters by nearly 300,000 voters. This is the first time since 2004 that Obama will lose youth support by more than 200,000. It’s also the first time since Lyndon Johnson’s landslide that John F. Kennedy will lose youth support, and the youngest age group would be the generation that put JFK over the edge in 1960.

As I keep saying, this is not an issue — not a single issue. It’s not even an issue to Democrats or Republicans. The age gap is a trend, and it doesn’t really matter if it matters more to one party or the other. If you have a chance to change the political narrative because of this, Democrats should take it.

What that narrative needs is to show that young voters make up a substantial portion of the electorate, and that’s the kind of party that can build voter enthusiasm. They need to show that their policies are a better fit for the current demographics than their opponents’, and that their policies are better for the future than the current demographics.

A few days after Romney was elected, I posted on Facebook that I thought it was clear that Obama was going to lose despite the gender gap. Within a week, that was a bit

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