The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election
November 3, 2011
Not since 1972 has generation played such a significant role in voter preferences as it has in recent elections. Younger people have voted substantially more Democratic in each election since 2004, while older voters have cast more ballots for Republican candidates in each election since 2006.
A new Pew Research Center study suggests this pattern may well continue in 2012. Millennial voters are inclined to back President Barack Obama by a wide margin in a potential matchup against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, while Silent generation voters are solidly behind Romney. Baby Boomers and Generation X voters, who are the most anxious about the uncertain economic times, are on the fence about a second term for Obama.
At the same time, the polling identifies potential fissures at both ends of the age spectrum that may affect these patterns. Older Republican-oriented voters, unlike younger people, rate Social Security as a top voting issue. While they favor the GOP on most issues, this is not the case for Social Security. Younger Democratic-leaning voters continue to support Obama at much higher levels than do older generations. But Obama’s job ratings have fallen steeply among this group, as well as among older generations, since early 2009. Perhaps more ominously for Obama, Millennials are much less engaged in politics than they were at this stage in the 2008 campaign.
Read the full report for more information on these subjects:
- How attitudes of different generations have been shaped by social and political trends
- The generational age gap and the 2012 elections
- Views of Obama and the political parties
- Views of the nation
- Generations and the Great Recession
- Views on entitlement programs
- Views of government
- Domestic and foreign policy views