Why the GOP Has a Hard Road Ahead (In Four Charts)

Today’s New York Times does a great job of highlighting something that’s been under-discussed in the conversation over Latino voters and immigration reform—Insofar that the GOP has a minority problem, it’s a subset of a much larger young person problem. Here’s the Times with more:

Nationally, voters under 30 accounted for 19 percent of the electorate last year, up from 18 percent in 2008. These millennials are by far the most ethnically and racially diverse voter cohort; whites account for just 58 percent of them, according to the Pew center, while 76 percent of older voters are white.

That diversity is partly why young voters skew liberal, said Scott Keeter, the center’s director of survey research. As more young people come of age, the electorate will grow more diverse. Unless Republicans break the bonds between Democrats and minorities, Mr. Keeter said, “this alignment is going to be baked into the younger generation.”

The Pew Research Center’s 2011 and 2012 surveys on Millennials have a huge amount of information on the political views of young people. To put it simply, they’re more liberal than any other generational cohort. Here are a few charts that illustrate the point.

1) Millennials are least likely to favor smaller government.

More do than in previous years, but it’s still low compared to their older counterparts.

2) They are also more liberal and more Democratic.

This isn’t a big surprise, but it is worth noting the extent to which there’s a large gap between Millennials and the rest of America.

3) And overall, they favor more activist government.

On almost every issue, Millennials are more likely to support government intervention than they are to oppose it. They also support legal abortion and same-sex marriage by huge margins, and are generally disposed to believe that the U.S. economic system favors the wealthy.

4) Barring a tectonic shift in American politics, this will endure.

It’s not just that young voters are more racially diverse, it’s also that this is the time when political preferences harden. Young voters who supported Obama in 2008 and 2012 are likely to vote Democratic for the rest of their lives.

If the Republican Party wants to return to a position of dominance in national elections—i.e. where it was from 1980 to 2004—then it will have to change to meet the needs and expectations of this cohort. Otherwise, it can expect a lot more elections like last year’s.