Could Democrats' Latest Problem for 2024 Be Millennials Moving to the Right?

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

It is a quote most often attributed to Winston Churchill, “If you are not a liberal at 25, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 35 you have no brain.” And it is a theory that has, for the most part, turned out to be true. Youth affords us the luxury of being idealistic and wanting that starry-eyed utopia for everyone. But then, something happens. The youth go out into the world and establish careers and families. They acquire possessions, and that utopia turns into practicality, and recognizing that they have worked hard for those possessions, and the cycle continues. And now, a few new studies are bearing out the fact that, as millennials age, they move more politically to the right.

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Voters 18-29 in 2008 voted for former President Barack Obama at twice the rate they did in 2020 for President Joe Biden. Those same people voted for Biden 55 percent to 43 percent over former President Donald Trump. But New York Times and Siena College polls showed that voters aged 34-43 supported Democrat congressional candidates by just 10 percent in 2022. Another study, from Cornell University’s Roper Center showed that voters in most political cohorts studied under the age of 50, tended to vote more for Republican candidates in 2020 than in 2012.

The studies showed that the trend of millennials moving to the political right is most prevalent among the older portion of those within the group, from ages roughly 34-43. The people who came of age politically in the era of Barack Obama, “hope and change,” and “yes we can,” don’t seem to be buying into those vague slogans anymore, and seem to have figured out what Obama meant by “fundamentally transforming America.” It’s the younger portion of this cohort that appear to still be on board with the Democrat Party. It is those younger people who have cut their political teeth on “Democrat Socialists” like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. For right now, Gen-Zers are firmly in the Democrat corner, and the question is, can the Democrats hold onto them, and if so, how?

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Older millennials who became politically active roughly from 2004-2008 were drawn in by issues like the war in Iraq and same-sex marriage. But now, many of those people are parents, and those issues have morphed into concerns about what their kids are being taught in school, CRT and transgenderism, and American entanglements in places like Ukraine. It is the younger portion of millennials where any shift to the right is less apparent. That group has come of age post-Obama and the fundamental transformation, and has supported movements like Black Lives Matter, and transgenderism.

But as millennials age, and more of them fall into the category of leaning right, is there something that might just keep them, at least superficially, touting left-wing ideas? The strict adherence to left-wing ideology and the consequences of straying in the form of cancel culture are well known. Will fear of backlash from their peers and from society in places like social media scare them off from becoming politically active on the right? Many older millennials might not like Donald Trump, and might not vote for him should he be the Republican nominee in 2024, but many of them also are now parents, and don’t like things like being told they have no say in their children’s education.

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Democrats have been turning off some of their most loyal voting blocs in the run-up to 2024 with their hard turn to the left. Millennials appear to be next in line.

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