I've written a fair amount about generational replacement and how important that is likely to be. One thing we've lacked is good data on the views of the Millennials' successor generation--called Gen Z in Pew's new report, though I have been referring to them simply as the Post-Millennials.
Millennials are notoriously left-leaning on both social and economic issues and have been voting heavily Democratic, a trend particularly noticeable in the last election. But will Gen Z (which Pew dates from the 1997 birth year) be different--less liberal, less pro-Democratic--than the Millennials? The answer to this question will tell us a lot about the magnitude of future generational effects on American politics.
So far, my sense of limited data has been that, in fact, Gen Z is quite similar to the Millennials in social and economic inclinations. This view is corroborated by Pew's new report, where they survey youth down to age 13 to get a good chunk of Gen Z, not just the folks already in the electorate. They find Gen Z to be very similar indeed to Millennials on issues from attitudes toward race and diversity to views on the role of government. And both generations detest Trump.
To see how important this harmony of views could be going forward, consider the evolving structure of the electorate. The Baby Boomers – a generation that has constituted a larger share of the electorate than any other for more than 30 years – are now being eclipsed by these younger and more diverse generations. By 2020, Millennials and Gen Z will represent 37 percent of eligible voters — far larger than the vaunted Boomers. In fact, if these generations are combined with the younger half of Generation X—whose social and political attitudes are also very similar to Millennials— they will constitute about half of the 2020 electorate. By 2032, these groups will constitute more than two-thirds of the electorate.
The times they are a-changin'.
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