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generation Y
The Myth of the Millennial Liberal

In the wake of Barack Obama’s 2008 landslide among young voters, it became an article of faith among giddy liberal pundits that millennials—more diverse, socially tolerant, and open to change than previous generations—would usher in a new kind of politics and form the basis of a permanent Democratic majority. But a new paper published in the Personality and Psychology Bulletin strongly suggests that such prognostications were rather optimistic.

The following chart, drawn from the paper, shows political self-identification among 12th-graders over time. As Jean Twenge, the paper’s lead author, told CNN: “High school seniors are more likely to identify as political conservatives now compared to 10 years ago.”

Screen Shot 2016-09-08 at 10.46.11 AMThere has been a marked shift toward liberalism among college freshmen over the past three decades (part of the academy’s broader lurch to the Left). But this may reflect the fact that the Republican advantage is concentrated among whites from working class families, who are less likely to go to college, while the Democrats are increasingly dominant among the upper-middle class.

Millennials’ current leftward tilt (at least in presidential elections) may become less pronounced as they age, just as it did for the Boomers, Twenge and her colleagues suggest. The defining feature of their portrait of the emerging generation is not liberalism but polarization and drift—more strong liberals, more strong conservatives, fewer moderates, and weaker attachment to both political parties.

The paper is a reminder of the difficulty of predicting with certainty the long-term political behavior of any cohort of Americans—especially today’s young people, who are coming of age at a time of economic dislocation and possible partisan realignment. After all, political science has also produced ominous indicators that millennials are losing confidence in liberal-democratic politics altogether.

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  • Beauceron

    This is just wrong.
    Leaving aside the fact that most high school seniors have little knowledge or interest in politics, I think most of their attitudes change once they get into adulthood.
    Over the long term, as whites become just one third of the country, the Dems will get their permanent majority. Even now, with a candidate as poor as HRC running, it is almost impossible for Republicans to win, even assuming someone more palatable to the elite were running on the R side.
    This is a done deal, and there is nothing that can be done to change it.

    • Tom

      This is the same twaddle that was being pushed by anti-immigration pundits during the early 20th centuries, as they complained that new immigrants were all voting in one particular way. It was, to put it bluntly, stupid then, and it’s stupid now.
      (Never mind the fact that whites were 8/9 of the population in 1860, and are currently 2/3 of the population now. At that rate, “the long term” you’re talking about is sometime in the 22nd century at the earliest)

      • Beauceron


        I decline to pretend that immigrants from Ireland and Italy are the same as immigrants from Somalia, Syria, and El Salvador. They are not. They are from different cultures. It is much more difficult to integrate a muslim from Mogadishu than it is a Catholic from Dublin. Also, to my knowledge, the massive shift in demographics during the earliy migration waves were not accompanied by what are, in effect, supremacy movements for the new groups. I watch what’s happening on college campuses, where whites are demonized and People Of Color are fetishized, and I cannot bring myself to pretend that it is like the late 1800s. It is not and it is ludicrous to pretend it is. I cannot pretend that assimilation, which brought millions of earlier immigrants into the American fold, is not now a forbidden concept. Literally– you are banned from even using the word on most campuses and schools. It is considered a form or racism and bigotry. If it is much more difficult to integrate a muslim from Mogadishu than it is a Catholic from Dublin, then it is impossible when you tell the muslim from Mogadishu that any attempt to integrate and assimilate them into American society is racist, Islamophobic, colonialist, always oppressive and should be resisted.

        In short, your analogizing the current immigration wave to previous European-based immigration waves is ridiculous on its face, a product of wishful thinking and blind, smug, unthinking stupidity. You and those like you have put us on a course for disaster. I am stuck on the ship you have steered toward the shoals for decades. I remained silent, hoping for the best (and being fearful of being drawn and quartered for speaking up). I have, in the last 6 months or so, stopped being afraid– or as afraid.

        “At that rate, “the long term” you’re talking about is sometime in the 22nd century at the earliest)”

        No. About 30-40 years. A recent Pew study put the white population in the US at 46% in 2065– wildly optimistic, in my view. I think whites will fall below the 50% mark around 2050 at best– although I foresee a time when the Left and their “New American” allies gain power and simply make this a borderless country. That’s where my 33% number comes from. 46% assumes immigration on standard levels.

        • Tom

          Sorry, I’m not even 25, so blaming me for stupid multicultural nonsense isn’t going to work. Also, we don’t have nearly as many Somalians coming as we had Irish or Poles, particularly in proportion to the general population, thus making the job easier–and I’d dearly love to know what makes Hispanics so different from Italians, especially culturally speaking.

          • JR

            The % of Muslim immigrants in Europe is a lot lower than % of Irish and Poles in the US in 1800’s. And yet, they are causing a ton of problems for their host countries. To pretend every immigrant group is exactly the same is just silly.

          • Tom

            Apples and oranges.
            The Euros have bought into multiculturalism and, frankly, don’t have enough jobs for their own people. OF COURSE there are going to be problems.

          • Jim__L

            Look at the number of draft-age men in Europe… Muslims are close to half of that demographic.

            Of course there are going to be problems.

          • JR

            Israel showed that these hordes of Muslims are easily defeatable if one has the training and the will to do it.

          • f1b0nacc1

            The EUnicks have neither the training nor the will…nor are they likely to change that anytime in the future.

          • JR

            You know what, I’m feeling optimistic today. I believe my kid’s generation will be a lot tougher than my own. They are already growing up in a tough world that’s bound to get even tougher. Yes, it will break some, but most will emerge better for it. I wouldn’t bury Europe just yet, although Jews leaving Europe is a bad sign.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Lets hope that you are right….the kids I do my volunteer work with (I don’t have any of my own, I borrow other people’s kids from time to time…grin…) seem like a solid group with a good future, but they are a self-selected bunch, so one never knows…

            We Jews have a lot of practice in leaving before the situation gets too dangerous…

          • JR

            I got two, and I feel we are genetically programmed to feel this way towards our kids, because they sure are expensive! But worth it. 🙂

          • f1b0nacc1

            The kids I work with are exceptional, and I am truly lucky to be involved with them. Their parents, on the other hand….

          • Jim__L

            I’m not sure I’d call what the Israelis are doing “easy”. They’re certainly motivated.

          • JR

            Good point. Allow me to rephrase. Israel showed that it is doable, that it can be done. As long as there is a will to do it.

          • Beauceron

            Well, regardless of age, you support it. You own it. I assumed someone who used the word “twaddle” must be about 80. 😉 My apologies.

            I use Somalians as an example. The current immigration wave is about the same size as those of the 1900s as a percentage of the population (in real numbers it is much higher. (

            “I’d dearly love to know what makes Hispanics so different from Italians, especially culturally speaking.”

            For starters, influences like this fellow, a prof at U of Texas.


            But overall, because of things like this:
            Italians WANTED to assimilate, to become Americans. Latinos, for the most part, do not.

          • Beauceron

            I mean, look, you can literally read articles like this one from this afternoon EVERY SINGLE DAY:


            And you wonder why I am concerned, or dismiss it as “twaddle”?

            I mean, literally every single day.

            It is fair to ask, at this point, what the heck the end-goal is.

          • Lewis

            The situation may seem dire but I think that on a day to day level most new immigrants don’t want to be cast in the role of race martyrs by the liberal intelligentsia. At least from my experience Hispanics (especially those from Cuba, PR and the DR) and Asians, but not Muslims or blacks obviously, assimilate better into white American culture. Check out this from the nytimes (of all places):


          • Tom

            So, in that case, you don’t have a problem with immigrants. You have a problem with idiot leftist twerps.

          • Beauceron

            Oh, broadly speaking, absolutely.

            What has really set me off is mass immigration wedded to Leftism. If all these people were coming in with a sincere, earnest desire to be good Americans, I wouldn’t have much to worry about. If there was a true effort, as their was in previous decades, to integrate and assimilate new americans, I wouldn’t have much to worry about. We could all inter-marry and be one big, juicy, weird, unique human family.

            That is NOT what is happening. What we are getting is the Left’s identity politics. And it is nasty and ugly and it is likely going to get far worse.

            I mean, did you read any of the stories I linked to?

            When you have college students demanding the right to have non-white roomates for the following reasons:

            Student Karé Ureña (PZ ’18) posted on Facebook that non-white students in need of housing arrangements should reach out to either her or two other students with whom she plans to live in an off-campus house. The post states that “POC [people of color] only” will be considered for this living opportunity. “I don’t want to live with any white folks,” Ureña added.

            Dalia Zada (PZ ’18) expressed concerns to the anti-white discrimination. “‘POC only?’ Maybe I’m missing something or misunderstanding your post, but how is that not a racist thing to say?”

            “This is directed to protect POC, not white people. Don’t see how this is racist at all…” responded AJ León (PZ ’18), a member of the Pitzer Latino Student Union.

            “People of color are allowed to create safe POC only spaces. It is not reverse racism or discriminatory, it is self preservation [sic],” Sara Roschdi (PZ ’17), another Pitzer Latino Student Union member, stated. “Reverse racism isn’t a thing.”

            “We don’t want to have to tiptoe around fragile white feelings in a space where we just want to relax and be comfortable,” commented Nina Lee, a Women’s Studies major. “I could live with white people, but I would be far more comfortable living with other poc.”

            My views are a reaction to years of watching this. If this is what they are building towards– and they are– well then, it is time to reject multiculti and look to your “own.”

          • Tom

            Now this I can work with, and largely agree with. Right now, the main thing is enforcing our laws in the present–and telling stupid Leftists that can deal with us or the alt-Right.

          • Jim__L

            Willingness to assimilate.

            Italians made a huge effort to assimilate. The jury is still out on whether Hispanics will too. If you can provide some evidence either way, I’d be happy to listen.

    • adk

      “Even now, with a candidate as poor as HRC running, it is almost impossible for Republicans to win, even assuming someone more palatable to the elite were running on the R side.”

      Let’s flip this: even with a candidate as poor as DT running, he’s now almost caught up with HRC in the polls. Which suggests to me that almost any of the Republican contenders Trump vanquished in the primaries would be now well ahead of HRC.

      • Beauceron

        That’s a fair point.

        I think The Donald benefits from being an unknown quantity. True, the press has hammered him just as every Republican can expect to get hammered. We forget that Romney, McCain and certainly Bush were also racist fascists who were going to take us back to the days of the Third Reich. Our press is The Boy Who Cried Hitler.

        But still, I think there is a benefit in not having a political record, very much like Obama. You give your enemies less ammo.

        In any event, however, we are talking here about the young, and about demographic shifts. The young are not voting for Trump. Indeed, the young tend to think HRC is too conservative. Many would prefer Sanders.

        • adk

          Well, The Donald isn’t exactly a totally unknown quantity, although he has never held a public office. During the Republican primaries, he largely benefited from the press because of his name recognition/entertainment value and because many in the press, rooting for Hillary,considered him the best Republican candidate for her thus giving him a lot more free publicity that to the rest of the Republican field.

          It’s only when he became the Republican nominee, the guns of the media naturally turned on him which should have been fully expected. Plus, he gave them a lot of fodder to make their task easier.

          In any case, a competent Republican candidate would’ve capitalized on Hillary’s many troubles, both self-inflicted (classified information mishandling, secret email server, the lies and cover-ups, the Clinton Foundation, etc, etc) AND her role as the SoS in setting Obama disastrous foreign policy.

          If Trump has done all of that (he may still have little time left), the young might feel even less enthusiastic about Hillary than they already do thus sitting the coming election out.

      • Andrew Allison

        “I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right” (P.T. Barnum). Given the widespread illiteracy among the young, this might prove to be the deciding factor [grin]

  • Jim__L

    “Millennials’ current leftward tilt (at least in
    presidential elections) may become less pronounced as they age, just as
    it did for the Boomers, Twenge and her colleagues suggest.”

    It’s worth repeating — if you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart.

    • Andrew Allison

      Incomplete. “Not to be a socialist at 20 is proof of want of heart; to be one at 30 is proof of want of head.” Clemenceau.
      But John Adams’ “A boy of 15 who is not a democrat is good for nothing, and he is no better who is a democrat at 20.” may be more appropriate to a discussion of 12th graders.

      • CaliforniaStark

        A slightly different take on it:

        “I never dared to be radical when young, For fear it would make me conservative when old.” Robert Frost

    • lurkingwithintent

      That’s my problem I guess.

      • Jim__L

        Andrew was kind(?) enough to complete the quote. I’m trying to cut back on internet-style digs. With intermittent success.

        • lurkingwithintent

          I was merely saying I wasn’t a liberal at 20, but hope that I had both a heart and a head. Flippancy led to my not being clear. But I would say that it is also true enough of many who make it through college these days as conservatives — such as my kids, some nieces and nephews and some of their friends — but are often a silent minority out of fear or just because it is easier to get through without stirring the pot.

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