Doing some scanning of the online news landscape during the first week of November, I came across an interesting study released by the Pew Research Center. It’s called The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election: Angry Silents, Disengaged Millennials. The document outlines a number of conclusions, with the thesis being that generational differences have come to hold more and more sway over the outcome of national elections.
For this particular study, the folks at Pew Research divide the American public into four generational camps: the millennial generation (ages 18-30), generation x (ages 31-46), the boomer generation (ages 47-65), and the silent generation (ages 66-83). The researchers examine the electoral behavior of each group from 2000 to the present, and project that millennials will vote Democratic in 2012, silents will vote Republican, and boomers and members of generation x are largely undecided.
Why is this the case? The media included in this post will provide some insight, but Pew researchers argue that voting behavior is largely a product of the environment in which each generation reaches adulthood. They say for millennials, who came of age in the context of the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush presidencies, the following characteristics represent the norm:
- Liberal attitudes on most social and governmental issues, as well as America’s approach to foreign policy.
- “Baked in” support for a more activist government.
- Allegiance to the Democratic Party and profoundly little identification with the GOP.
- A direct relationship between level of racial diversity and level of liberalism.
- Waning approval of President Obama’s job performance.
- Less political engagement approaching 2012 when compared to 2008.
The above findings interest me because The College of Saint Rose is primarily made up of millennial students. So, for the millennials reading this, do the researchers at the Pew Center have you pegged? Regardless of your answer to that question, what particular events, life experiences, or individuals have influenced your current political preferences, or lack thereof? One Saint Rose student checks in with his answers to these questions in the video provided below…