A recent discussion about the massive growth of unaffiliated voters in NC, while the Democratic Party's "share" of the pie is shrinking precipitously, had me scrabbling for some kind of guidance on what that actually means. Not sure if this is an all-encompassing answer, but if it is, those consultants calling for centrism or even center-right Dem candidates need to take a powder:
Of all the storylines emerging from the historic 2008 elections perhaps none has more impact on the future of our country than the rise of the Millennial Generation. These young 18- to 29-year-old Americans born between 1978 and 2000 represent the largest and most diverse generation in American history.
What is most important about these voters is not their current predilection for Democratic candidates, however, but rather the deeply held progressive beliefs underlying their voting preferences. The progressive beliefs of these young adult voters could recast the core ideological battles that have defined our country’s post-Vietnam political discourse.
Kind of sheds better light on why Republicans are trying to stifle the college vote, eh?
Before we get into more stats on this, a friendly reminder: as progressives in a free-market feudal nightmare state like North Carolina, it's real easy to become discouraged. Hell, we can't seem to get more than a handful of Democrats to listen to us, much less the divide-and-conquer misanthropic Republicans who are trying to drag our state off that cliff in Africa where all the elephants go to commit suicide. But, as you can see by these numbers, we're not wrong, they are, even the Dems.
I know it hasn't been easy, and God bless you folks in groups like PDNC that have been trying to keep the discussion moving. But you know why those meetings are only sparsely attended? Because we've been fishing in the wrong pond. Every now and then you can teach an old dog new tricks, bit it is far from a productive activity. Better we spend our time with people who don't bring along the baggage of growing up in a society with antiquated notions of value and morality, psychological artifacts which make understanding new ideas difficult at best, and impossible for many.
There's simply too much at stake to waste time and effort trying to "fix" older politicians who don't already grasp the need for progressive policies. And the longer we screw around trying to do so, the more we lose touch with Millennials, something we can't afford to do. Sermon over, back to the stats:
In terms of the attitudes, self-identification and ideological ratings measured throughout the study, it is clear that conservatism is in near collapse among Millennials. In contrast to findings among older Americans, this survey reveals that there is little, if any, residual strength for the conservative worldview among younger Americans—less than half of all young people rate a “conservative” approach to politics favorably while a “progressive” approach is the most highly rated. Similarly, a strong plurality of younger Americans, 44 percent, self-identify as either progressive or liberal compared to just 28 percent who call themselves conservative or libertarian.
◾More than two in three younger Americans agree with progressive perspectives on energy, sustainable living, and climate change, government efforts to protect people and the economy, and new steps to fight inequality. Strong agreement tops 40 percent on many of these progressive beliefs. Many of these areas of agreement align with the findings from the national survey, suggesting that there is genuine cross-generational consensus on the fundamental values that should guide our country.
◾Majorities of self-identified young conservatives and Republicans agree with all five progressive arguments on the role of government, four out of five progressive positions on economic and domestic policy, and three out of five progressive beliefs about international affairs and national security.
As you can see, even young people who claim to espouse conservative principles are actually pretty dang progressive. That means progressive candidates can actually "speak" about what they would like to do without worrying (as much) about scaring young voters off. And such openness will eventually be the only way to win, if I'm reading my tea leaves properly.
The bottom line? Don't give up, and don't throw away your notes. Somebody might want to read them in the near future.