As I wrote yesterday, I agree with David’s post below. I honestly think that ideology probably mattered far less than a rejection of the general meanness and lack of empathy shown by Republicans over these last few years of hard times. I guess I’m just a Pollyanna, but I don’t believe that a majority of the American people feel the kind of hatred for their fellow men and women.
However, I must take exception to one thing that David said below. He indicates through his final picture that this is the province of elderly white people and they are not going to be allowed to dictate the course of this country for the future. Here’s the problem: it isn’t just elderly white people. It’s white people, even young ones:
The youngest are indeed, more Democratic. But they also, as usual, feature a larger share of third party votes, many of which are libertarian and will translate into Republican votes as they get older. Yes, they’re less conservative than their elders, but not that much less conservative.
The reason I bring this up is because I think it’s important to be clear eyed about generational theories. I grew up in what was thought by every cultural and political observer of the time to be a monolithic liberal generation. We made up a gigantic portion of the population and changed many things in our time. But it was a mistake to believe that we were all liberal, even if popular culture made it seem so — as Nixonland showed, the baby boomers were politically divided just like everyone else, even then. And many of them became more conservative as they grew older.
There are fewer white racists among the younger generation, no doubt about it. And David is right that many of the dogwhistles were aimed at the old codgers. But there was only about a five point difference between the oldest white Republican voters and the youngest — and there is no difference at all among whites over the age of 39, most of whom will be voting for a very long time to come.
This is less an age problem than a race problem and we’d better be aware of that. Take it from me, it’s highly unlikely that these younger white people are going to get any more liberal as time goes on.