Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

January 29, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

THE AGE GAP....This is weird. A few weeks ago I noted that in New Hampshire Hillary Clinton had lost to Barack Obama among 18-24 year olds and 30-39 year olds, but oddly, had won in the middle group of 25-29 year olds. I wrote it off as a statistical fluke, but guess what? The same thing happened in Florida.

Once might be a fluke, but not twice. So what's going on? Why would Hillary do 10 points better among a small donut hole of 25-29 year olds compared to the two age groups surrounding it? FWIW, this cohort is the one that turned 18 during the four years of Bill Clinton's second term. Was that a period when Hillary was especially appealing to young voters, who have stuck with her ever since?

Any ideas?

Kevin Drum 9:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (76)

Bookmark and Share

I have a 30-year-old Obama-supporting sister and a 24-year-old Obama-supporting sister. I'm the HRC-supporting brother at age 27.

Eerie. I have no insight, though. I don't buy Obama's promises to "change" anything; and, I guess, they do. I like him though, he'll do if that's who the Dems get.

Posted by: Jesse on January 29, 2008 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a 27 year old in grad school and (now that you point it out) can see a similar trend among students. I'd guess that it's not just that the donut-holers hit key years of political awareness during the Clinton administration. It's also that they grew up during the GOP War on Clinton, and as a result are less interested in transformative bipartisanship and less willing or able to believe in the politics of change.

Posted by: E on January 29, 2008 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

25-29 is just 4% of the total. Maybe the sample size was too small to be representative? Otherwise I have no idea. The 25-29 age group was deeply affected by 9/11. Maybe they view Hillary as the best choice for national security? I'm a Gen-Xer myself, and I'm excited about Obama simply because he's NOT a Boomer.

Posted by: Richard on January 29, 2008 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

One possibility:

About 10.4% of the entire African-American male population in the United States aged 25 to 29 was incarcerated, by far the largest racial or ethnic group


Posted by: JS on January 29, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

Huh. I'm 29, and I'm in the HRC camp (though I'll have no problem pulling the lever -- or, well, sending in the absentee ballot) for Obama if he gets the nomination.

I do think that it does have to do with really becoming politically aware in the Clinton years. My parents were thorough Republicans (Cuban exile community), and Reagan looked like a swell guy when I was a kid ("Ronnie Raygun!" as per one of the formative films of my youth, Iron Eagle). It was only when I was reaching adulthood that I started to realize that, hey, the Democrats (and the Clintons) talked a lot of sense.

And I think E nails the rest, namely that I'm not buying the "politics of change" routine. Too many years of GOP sliming doesn't encourage me to think that they're going to get conciliatory with Obama. If he gets the nomination, I hope he can swing winning and then having a great administration, but I'm dubious.

Posted by: Elio M. Garca, Jr. on January 29, 2008 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

a more imprtant breakdown in florida....

breakdown of absentee who voted a month ago vs. who votes today???

Posted by: del on January 29, 2008 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

I'll take a stab at it, though it is only a guess. 18-24 are college/grad students who see the younger Obama as the candidate of change and of hope.
The 25-29 group might be more heavily made up of younger married couple, especially married women who can be expected to vote for Clinton in droves. Mark Penn whatever his faults may be is still very very smart. The Clinton campaign will be driving out the first time female vote more than any other demo.
As for 30-39 there are probably more divorcees and people who are tired of the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton trend.
Again this is all speculation.

Posted by: angryhippopotamus on January 29, 2008 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Chelsea Clinton. She's 27, and everybody loves Chelsea!

Posted by: Andy on January 29, 2008 at 9:35 PM | PERMALINK

Obama didn't emphasize the state, Hillary emphasized strongly. If you support Hillary and are young, you are going to come out. IF you are young and support Obama, you're more likely to just sit home. The fluke will magically dissappear on tuesday.

Posted by: Jor on January 29, 2008 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

People 18-24 years of age don't want to turn 30 and see Obama as a bulwark against the compromises of growing old.

People 25-29 years of age are biting the bullet and trying to do the adult, responsible thing.

People 30-39 years of age know they're adults and want to believe they are young.

Posted by: mk on January 29, 2008 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

This is embarrassing ... I'm in that age group (26 years old), and it beats the hell out of me.

My guess: it has something to do with remembering the Clinton years. My political coming of age was right around 1994, but most of my memories of politics are of Clinton coasting through high approval ratings of the late nineties.

But that didn't work to well with me...I really was sick of the Clinton administration by 1999 and became a McCainiac around 2000. So go figure.

Posted by: AMP on January 29, 2008 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK


I don't think that fact could produce the swings seen here. Indeed, what percentage of African-American males 19-24 are incarcerated?

I actually like angryhippotamus' explanation, as far as it goes. However, the sample sizes here must be pretty small for these age groups, and I wonder about the confidence intervals.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on January 29, 2008 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

I have to say, the explanation about black men that age being incarcerated is convincing....and very depressing.

Posted by: AMP on January 29, 2008 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

The 25 - 29 group hit high school during the (Bill) Clinton years.

And if you start becoming more aware of the world, politically, etc., during those early to mid-teen years, maybe they're responding to their recollections of a good period in their lives, and in our country's fortunes.

Younger, and you don't really recall the Clinton years; older and you view those years with a bit more (Lewinsky, triangulation, welfare 'reform', etc) scepticism.


Posted by: Robert Earle on January 29, 2008 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

as someone in that age bracket, obama supporters far outnumber hillary supporters, men and women. and it's not just a bunch of people just like me.

so i can't explain it, but it doesn't square with my experience. i'm in a super tuesday state, too, fwiw.

Posted by: jim on January 29, 2008 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

Another possibility - the fact that something happens twice doesn't mean it's not still a statistical anomaly. Flipping a coin twice and having it come up heads both times is hardly a notably unusual event. If it happens a lot - then we can talk.

Posted by: GeoffBro on January 29, 2008 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

I just want to point out that HRC may actually be doing better among 24-yr-olds and 30-yr-olds, even 22-yr-olds and 35-yr-olds, than this particular way of slicing the demographic suggests. We just don't know, because we get an aggregate that includes people very close to and people further away from those magic 5 years. (Why the heck do they have a 7-yr slice then a 5-yr slice then a 10-yr slice, anyway?)

Posted by: rabbit on January 29, 2008 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

I think the others are mostly right-- the 25-29 group likely sees the Bill Clinton era as a period of good government and rabid, lunatic Republicans. And they're young enough to still believe that the past can be restored, lol.

For those of us in the 30-39 group, it was more an era of small-bore thinking and disappointments; since we remember the beginning of Bill's administration and how hopeful things seemed, the letdown was more significant. We lost patience because they simply didn't deliver, and often for petty, self-serving reasons.

Posted by: latts on January 29, 2008 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Odd - I'm a 25 year old grad student and I am sincerely not sure if I could vote for Senator Clinton in the general election but have given as much as I could to Obama.

Posted by: reader on January 29, 2008 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

Just focus on when these groups turned 18.

The 25-29 age group turned 18 between 1997 and 2001. Those were the years of the Clinton impeachment, the Starr Report, the Brooks Brothers "riot," Katherine Harris etc. These are the voters who would have the most invested in Hillary as a pitbull to fight against the vast right-wing conspiracy. Advantage Hillary.

The 18-24 age group turned 18 between 2002 and 2008. When the Clinton Administration came to close in 2001, this group had not yet achieved maturity. All they've known is Dubya, "strategery," 9/11, the cynical exploitation of 9/11, the Iraq War vote in 2003, "swift-boating" etc. etc. Obama's message of a new politics that promises an end to partisan polarization would definitely resonate with this crowd. Advantage Obama.

The 30-39 age group turned 18 between 1987 and 1996. They came of age either during the tail end of the Reagan/Bush Sr. administrations or during the rocky first half of the Clinton Administration (e.g., the health care debacle). Advantage Obama.

Posted by: jonp72 on January 29, 2008 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

As someone who is in that demo, no, I do not understand it at all.

Posted by: Chris O. on January 29, 2008 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Chelsea Clinton will be 28 on Feb 27, 2008. So, my conclusion is that young 'uns in that age bracket look upon Hillary as their mother.

Posted by: Dilbert on January 29, 2008 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Angryhippo said about what I woulda: the difference might be in the types of people voting in those age brackets, they're not the same. Primary voters are anomalies somewhat anyway, but it's much easier to be politically active in college, when surrounded by young idealistic (naive) people, without jobs and with time to kill. A few years later, everyone is away from their peer group, working a lame job somewhere. The politically motivated at that age (25-29) are probably young married people, not singles, and a slightly more conservative group. By the 30-39s, you're more established into a network of peers, and political mobilization is easier, so the voting group is made up more of the seasoned politicos, and less the bandwagon groupies.

Posted by: luci on January 29, 2008 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Who's your mommy?

Posted by: Dawn on January 29, 2008 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

latts: ...an era of small-bore thinking and disappointments

Just as I would have said it. I was an excited 16 year-old for the 1992 election but by 1996 I had already started looking for 3rd-party liberal fringe candidates. Obama is the first Democrat (other than Kucinich) I have enthusiastically supported in my voting lifetime.

Posted by: Ben on January 29, 2008 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

The 25 - 29 group hears Obama's tune and it sounds just like Bush to them; fool me once, blah, blah, blah

Posted by: ding on January 29, 2008 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

The answer is simple -- that's Chelsea's demographic.

Posted by: Disputo on January 29, 2008 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

I'm 28, and the formative events of my political coming-of-age were the Clinton impeachment and the 2000 recount. I don't prefer either Clinton or Obama, but the latter's post-partisan approach turns me off entirely. I think he either doesn't understand or won't acknowledge the state of national politics in this country, and I simply will not vote for him in the primary because of it. I won't vote for Clinton, either, for several other reasons, but they are reasons that she could try to correct without upending her whole campaign; Obama couldn't.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on January 29, 2008 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

Shot in the dark.

The 25-29 year olds remember the Clintons, but only in a hazy way. They were not participating much, but they do vaguely remember what was on the news. Most of what they know they have learned in the years since.

The slightly older voters were more alert and active during the Clinton years and are less inclined to want a repeat. To them the Clintons are yesterday's news. They are not totally negative on them, but they are really looking for some one different. These people supported Dean and Clark in 2004.

Posted by: James E. Powell on January 29, 2008 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

fwiw, I'm 27, support Obama strongly, and have a lingering dislike for Hillary.

Posted by: BRM on January 29, 2008 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

I think it's that the 25-29 year olds are distinctly smarter on average than the age brackets on either side of theirs, and I'm pretty sure that it's the Hillary voters in that group that bring up that average.

I'll grant, it's just a guess.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 29, 2008 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

18-24 year olds are just getting into politics - Obama is the "new guy" along with them. 30-39 year olds remember Reagan/Bush 1, and may think Hillary is drifting a bit too close to their tactics. But you get the sweet spot, that remembers Bill but doesn't have many memories of Republicans prior, and there you find support for Clinton.

Just my two cents....

Posted by: orion on January 29, 2008 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Completely off the top of my head...could it be the single mothers who reared children in this age group? My children...just this age...are sophisticated, educated, liberal and were eye witnesses to the slings and arrows of the outrageous, atavistic misogyny hurled at both HRC and...implicitly...their own mothers by the MSM and the Republican noise machine. Just a thought.

Posted by: Sharon on January 29, 2008 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

It's economics, stupid. Most of those people aren't as political on a daily basis as the people who read political blogs.

But if you came of age between 1995 & 2000, you came of age during one of the most prosperous periods in history of any country. The economy expanded faster during the Clinton years than during any other peace time presidency in history.

It was a time of rising possibilities in a gushering economy. The future looked bright.

Moreover, government functioned reasonably well for the citizens. If a hurricane hit Florida, it was cleaned up. It was the best of times.

Meanwhile, the people who brought it to us, Bill & Hillary were under seige.

It seems rational to want to get back to where we were on January 19, 2001. To hit the reset button. Hillary allows us to do that.

As for myself, I am die hard Edwards man. I took an economics history class from a Nobel Prize winning Economic Historian.

From that class I learned that concentration of wealth and power (and the wealthy and powerful using their influence to avoid paying taxes) essentially caused the collapse of Ancient Egypt's New Kingdom, Roman Empire, Pre-Islamic Mecca, Byzantine Empire, medieval Japan, Hapsburg Spain, Bourbon France, Romanov Russia, and Coolege/Hoover America (triggering the great depression the rise of Hitler, WWII, and the Holocaust).

We don't know how much rope we have left, but the current policies have us playing with fire. They are also cruel. In short, these policies are both unwise and immoral.

Edwards is the only person who is attacking the concentration of wealth and power head on as the most important issue. Fortunately, in a general election he is also the most electable and would have the broadest coat tails for tilting the Senate and house our way.

In the final analysis, it's almost always about money and economics.

Posted by: Bubbles on January 29, 2008 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary is their mother!

Posted by: janetmclaren on January 29, 2008 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

The real story here IMO with these statistics is to examine the 30+ voters only. You get the following trends:
a) Hillary does increasingly well with older voters.
b) Obama does decreasingly well with older voters.
c) Edwards maintains the steadiest appeal across this age range.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 29, 2008 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

The nineties were marked by two huge phenomena: the advent of Bill Clinton (with his extraordinary charisma and message of hope and change), and the impeachment of Bill Clinton (embodied by an extraordinarily cynical and ideological attack on a successful president).

People who were not old enough to internalize either of these events are enamored with the charismatic Obama, with his message of hope and change. People old enough to have internalized only impeachment have fond memories of Bill and Hillary and thirst for revenge more than anything else. People old enough to have internalized both events also thirst for revenge, but it is more than balanced by their admiration for Obama, who strongly channels the Bill Clinton of 1992, much more so than Hillary does.

Posted by: Aristarchus on January 29, 2008 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

High school or recent highschoolers are hot for Obama. My sister is no different.

I can only assume Clinton works better with college-era? They remember the Clinton years more fondly?

I can't say which way I'm leaning. But I like the option to be involved in the choice.

Posted by: Crissa on January 29, 2008 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

25-29 year olds have been receiving a lot of enlistment literature the past four years. Over the past seven years they have seen quite a decline in America since the end of the Clinton administration. 25-29 year olds probably are not attracted to Hillary as much as the diminished prospects for the opportunities the end of the Nineties promised has enticed them to hope Sen. Clinton can return America back to those happy days. If that is the underlying reason, it would be sadly nostalgic. These people were the new, or about to be new, adults at the turn of the century. The new millennium is already over. A couple of bubbles, expensive wars and really poor monetary policy have mortgaged their future to a subprime lender at an adjustable rate with no limits. I hope they are not disappointed with their choice.

Posted by: Brojo on January 29, 2008 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

People 25-29 became politically aware during the impeachment witchhunt which corresponded with the height of Hillary's populaity. They will have fond memories of her. People younger do not have this experience. However, people who are older than the 25-29 group are also old enough to remember the Health Care reform failure and the 1994 midterm elections and thus have a more mixed impression of the Clinton years.

Posted by: DaveOinSF on January 30, 2008 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Professional women just starting careers after MBAs or JDs at 25-29, Kevin.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on January 30, 2008 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

I think many of the commenters have got it right in pointing to a feeling of solidarity with Hillary Clinton for what the right wing smear machine put her through. It was unforgivable, and the desire for revenge is understandable.

But a related question that should be asked is: how active are Hillary's young people compared to Obama's? I haven't seen any empirical evidence, but there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that Obama fans are far more passionate and, yes, evangelical. They're not just one vote; when they evangelize, they have the capacity to net more votes.

That's something that is consistently not talked about by the punditry. Talking about race and gender and who-said-what-when is much easier to do.

It's all about the evangelism.

Posted by: plum on January 30, 2008 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

I think most of the evidence shows that there is increasingly strong party identification with the Democrats these days the younger you go down the age spectrum.

Hence, people in their 30s are going to be more likely to be GOP leaners and sympathizers than people in their 20s.

Hillary Clinton is very much associated with partisan, Democratic party politics (this is part of her personae, after all) and Obama is exactly the opposite. So, people voting in Democratic primaries in their 30s, all things being equal, are likely to contain larger numbers of voters who are lukewarm or mildly hostile to the Democratic party than people in their 20s, and this results in a greater number of 30-something voters who just can't bring themselves to vote for that queen of partisanship, Hillary Clinton (but many who can vote for the avowedly non-partisan Obama).

The 25-29 cohort, by contrast, is not only less hostile to the Democratic party, but also by definition includes more people than the early 20s group who not only vividly remember the Clinton years, but were old enough even back then to recognize the importance of the far stronger Clinton economy. After all, a 28 year old in 2008 would have been 20 years old when Bill Clinton left office: a twenty year old is old enough in many cases to appreciate things like the price of gas, or the ease (or difficulty) of the job market. In addition, my sense is that the late 20s group is going to have more female voter representation than males (men take longer to become mature and responsible, and voting is a sign of responsibility). I'd guess this gender gap begins to even out a bit in the 30s. But needless to say, "femaleness" should correlate with a propensity to vote for Hillary, and thus this "femaleness" further improves Hillary's numbers with the 25-29 cohort.

Finally, when we get to the early 18-24 group, we're dealing with a cohort of younger voters who were basically kids when the Clintons were in office. The Clinton brand simply isn't as strong to them. They were not paying bills or vying for jobs back then. And needless to say, Obama's fresh face and exciting vibe is naturally infectious to young people.

Posted by: Jasper on January 30, 2008 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

I'm 27, coming of age politically during the last couple years of Bill. Not much of a Hillary supporter though I did and still do admire her husband. However, the dynastic element of another Clinton administration is really more than i can bear, though I'm sure she would be a competent executive. I just think a breath of fresh air would be good for the country as a whole and I don't see Hillary providing it. Just a thought.

Posted by: Ben on January 30, 2008 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

I'm 37 and I feel about Obama now much as I did about Bill Clinton in 1992 when I was 21, although my view is more skeptical, cynical and mature than then.

But I still prefer that he's got charisma and can communicate big ideas well. I see Hillary Clinton as having good command of the issues, but no sweeping vision and overall she strikes me as transparently political.

All politicians are political, but Hillary Clinton always seems like her deepest, most honest conviction was focused-grouped, made the subject of 10 internal campaign white papers, poll-tested before she came to it. It's a shame, but my opinion is that she is as far from genunine a politician and wears that on her sleeve.

Posted by: david in norcal on January 30, 2008 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

It's simple, really. For the 18-24 year olds, there's the whole "Woohoo! Change the world!!!11!" bandwagon effect, which obviously works for Obama. The older 20-somethings are, of course, far too smart and sophisticated for such collegiate naivete, so they're going with the safe, sensible Clinton option. By the time you get to my age, though, you're neither an idealist nor a poseur; you're just a grumpy 32-year old who's ready for some change and never liked Hillary much anyway.

Posted by: Dave on January 30, 2008 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

I'm 28 and I'm pretty sure I'd vote for Obama if I lived in a state where my primary vote mattered.

Posted by: Greg on January 30, 2008 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

Hillary is the candidate of Bush-Haters, and Clinton-Hater-Haters. Hillary is the MoveOn subscriber's candidate. 25-29 year olds were 18-22 when Bush was elected.

Ironically, they are also the generation most likely to be affected by this war, and they are voting for the most pro-war Democrat in the bunch. Go figure.

Posted by: Benjamin on January 30, 2008 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

That's my age cohort and while during the Bush years, I've often longed for the Golden Years of my high-school era when there was no war, gas was less than $1 to my new driving powers, i had a huge amount of disposable income and benevolent sexually-over-active man watched over me--I've become so radicalized that I believe only sweeping change, Obama change, can save us from climatological annihilation as a species.

Maybe it's because others of my age aren't as politically obsessed as me?

Posted by: MNPundit on January 30, 2008 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

"I'm a Gen-Xer myself, and I'm excited about Obama simply because he's NOT a Boomer."

Unfortunately, Obama is a trailing edge boomer born in 1961.

It is unlikely the country will have more than one GenX president since that demographic is dwarfed by both the boomers and their children in the echo boom. Plus those millenials are pissy and impatient.

Posted by: Boomers/EchoBoom suck on January 30, 2008 at 4:48 AM | PERMALINK

That is strange. But I am in the 25-29 age range and I voted for Hillary. I don't know what that means but I will tell you I was a big Bill Clinton and Gore supporter so maybe that has something to do with it. I also do not buy Obama's change rhetoric. In addition I am a teacher and I think that Obama's attitude towards teachers is despicable. I believe that Hillary gets it when it comes to education and I believe that she will do more than Obama to fix the education problem in this country.

Posted by: Sglw on January 30, 2008 at 6:46 AM | PERMALINK

I think that "generation" or whatever you want to call it, among Democrats tends to be more politically attuned than the 30-39s and the 18-24s, so they are more able to understand and appreciate the arguments for Hillary and against Obama, which stand against the kind of emotional appeals on Obama's side which are usually the strongest with the ignorant.

Posted by: Swan on January 30, 2008 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

I'm an Edwards supporter but my 25 year old daughter is supporting Hillary. When I asked why, she looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "Because she's a girl."

Could it be that feminism is a particularly powerful issue during those years? Also, I know that Hillary is MY second choice for that reason.

Posted by: katiebird on January 30, 2008 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

Some might argue against me that the blogosphere is pretty politically attuned and aware, but that there's a lot of pro-Obama sentiment on the blogosphere. I think of the blogosphere more as a clique that bought onto Obama and then bandwagoned. The arguments in fabor of Obama over Hillary actually aren't that compelling for it to be otherwise. So the blogosphere actually is like a flukey sub-set of the attuned and aware. That's my explanation, to the extent the pro-Obama sentiment isn't just astroturfing.

I'd like to see katiebird at 8:23's explanation for why Hillary is a second-choice for feminism. For me, that's totally incorrect.

Posted by: Swan on January 30, 2008 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

And in defense of katiebird's 25 y.o. daughter-- could it be she just didn't want to get into a big political discussion, but is indeed smart and voting for Hillary for the right reasons? Seems like a pretty common phenomenon to me. Oftentimes people who have been convinvced with the right reasons don't feel too confident in their ability to make the argument themselves-- but lack of desire to argue or confidence in actually arguing about politics doesn't make one a dummy.

Posted by: Swan on January 30, 2008 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Here's another thought: the 25-29 year olds knew the florida primary for what it was, a bullshit dog and pony show that doesn't count for *anything* but spin, and they weren't lured by the novelty of casting their very first ballots (the explanation for the 18-24 bracket). That's why. I can't believe that in 40 comments no one hit upon that fact.

-A 27 year old Floridian

Posted by: Tom on January 30, 2008 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

I think the feminism theory is pretty good, actually. Most women I know who are either in college or are recent college grads (i.e. women in the mid-20s) are very heavily indoctrinated with the strident "fight the patriarchy!" version of feminism. By their 30s, though, most people have developed a more nuanced, less aggressive view of the world, so the knee-jerk support of Clinton would drop-off. For the 18-24 year olds, I would wager the feminism factor is simply getting trumped by the idealism bandwagon.

Posted by: Dave on January 30, 2008 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

The 25-29 age group is also a pretty sexy age group, FWIW.

Posted by: Buddha Blaze Champion on January 30, 2008 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

I've heard that if you want to know a person's musical preference you need to see what was popular when the person was 14. Maybe that goes for politics, too?

Wait a minute, add 14, carry the one, Oh No! Nixon!!

Forget that theory.

Posted by: Tripp on January 30, 2008 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

The 18-24 year olds have grown up, especially in terms of the mainstream culture, in a more commercialized and less progressive culture. There was less of an underground culture and a counter-culture for them. And older siblings don't always share that stuff too readily with younger siblings. To some, it may sound like a fine distinction, but I know that for younger people that scene just hasn't been their scene. Their whole lives, they've been all about being waaaaaaaay commercialistic and had their culture and ideas almost totally sold to them through the corporations. Even MTV isn't as good as it once was-- the Real World used to be a show about real people that tackled real issues; latterly they've cast it only with jocks and bimbos-- it's basically the PG-13 rated version of the "Girls Gone Wild" tape.

Posted by: Swan on January 30, 2008 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

"Oftentimes people who have been convinvced with the right reasons don't feel too confident in their ability to make the argument themselves-- but lack of desire to argue or confidence in actually arguing about politics doesn't make one a dummy."

Yeah, I'm 60 and don't much enjoy contentious political conversations, so when somebody starts one, I ofter try to give an answer that will quickly end the exchange (but not be ridiculous), even if it shades the truth. This is more and more true as I get older and understand the limits of my ability to understand what the hell is going on, much less to predict what the best course of action will be.

In assessing what people say, you've got to discount for such feelings.

Posted by: David in NY on January 30, 2008 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK
Once might be a fluke, but not twice.

This is not, I don't think, backed by sound reasoning.

FWIW, this cohort is the one that turned 18 during the four years of Bill Clinton's second term. Was that a period when Hillary was especially appealing to young voters, who have stuck with her ever since?

I don't know about that, but its certainly people who did an important part of their growing up with a Clinton in the White House, and for whom Hillary, whether they developed an affection for her personally or not at the time, might represent a way to return to those "better days" on a visceral level.

Younger voters don't have the attachment to the idea of the Clinton years, older voters are less likely to idealize trivial associations with those years and look to deeper substance.

Or maybe its still a fluke.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 30, 2008 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

At the turn of the Century, only eight short years ago, there was an almost unlimited optimism for the future. 25-29 year olds were coming of age and their opportunities were going to be unlimited. Like my desire to become a flower child and live in a world of love, their world of unlimited economic growth and prosperity never existed. In eight years the world has gone to hell for the 25-29 year olds. The only reason I can think they would support Hillary is they want to return to the optimism of the new millennium that her husband's administration represented.

25-29 year olds are still too young to realize turn of the century optimism was a mirage. The stock market was already in a bubble by 2000, Greenspan was already monkeying around with incompetent monetary policy, educational aid had already switched from grants to loans and the US had armed itself to the teeth and continued to oppress people all over the globe. Global warming was going to be a recognized problem regardless of who won the 2000 election. 25-29 year olds were told how great the future was going to be for them. After a Democrat is elected later this year and not much changes, most of them will realize the optimism at the begining of the new millennium was a big lie and so were the campaign promises of 2008.

Posted by: Brojo on January 30, 2008 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

I think it's the economy. Democrats that actually vote at ages 18-24 are probably more likely to be idealists and still in school. The fact that the Bush economy is going to make life very difficult when you leave school doesn't really register when you don't have to earn anything. The latter 20's are or were a struggle for a lot of us. Entry-level white collar jobs increasingly take the form of long-term temp assignments that offer little in the way of benefits or security, let alone the ability to save. Hillary's tone, focusing on pocket-book issues at the expense of grand themes is more appealing at that stage in life. Once you start to get ahead in your 30's Barack's post-partisan message is one that you can afford to appreciate a bit more. Also, Democrats now in our 30's first became politically aware during the toxic Gingrich/DeLay vs. Clinton era and are naturally most eager to get past that if possible.

Posted by: Robert in NY on January 30, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

25-29 year olds probably have more debt than any previous generation their age, and the least prospects from ever climbing out of it.

Posted by: Brojo on January 30, 2008 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

My thinking about this will seem "out of left field" (vs. "we grew up with Chelsea" theories) but these results reported here seem fairly consistent with a theory that I've had for a while about a "bright line" technological divide that breaks the 20-29 yo at the mid-point of the decade.

Thesis: The quick improvements made to digital and Internet communications provided new and highly effective forms of relating to one another. The abundance and variety of social networking sites and niche-issue blogs provide spaces in which people can exchange ideas that are outside the mainstream of culture and politics, develop e-communities of similar interests, and stay in contact with and influence a diversity of real and cyber friends.

Young people who were in school when Facebook and YouTube took off simply had more time to participate on these sites and, as a result, they became the strongest nodes of the new technology networks. Those of us who were just out of college when these sites launched (I'm 27) are simply less enmeshed within these new viral networks. And I suspect the negative correlation here gets more pronounced the closer you get to 30 years old and beyond.

Caveat: Age is not the only factor determining which side of this new "digital divide" you live on. Blue-collar people and people in rural areas, regardless of their age, are less likely to be as involved on-line and more likely to be on the periphery of the viral node schema.

So what?

Well, I observe that Obama's campaign has galvanized his "base" support among young people through viral technologies and by having strong support among the opinion-leaders within the new technology networks. Conversely, Clinton's campaign has been slow to catch up on the success that he's found there.

If 20-24 year old voters are more likely to be members of these new technology networks and 25-29 year olds are not, then we have not only a pattern in how people get turned on to a candidate but also, and as a result of different campaign communications strategies, a pattern in which candidate they get turned on to.

Posted by: Dale on January 30, 2008 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

FWIW, this cohort is the one that turned 18 during the four years of Bill Clinton's second term. Was that a period when Hillary was especially appealing to young voters, who have stuck with her ever since?

The people in this cohort got (or gave) their first blowjobs during Bill Clinton's second term. It's solidarity over the media circus around the impeachment.

Posted by: Alan Bostick on January 30, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Dave in NY,

I'm 60 and don't much enjoy contentious political conversations

I'm 51 and I still remember the advice to "avoid the topics of religion, sex, and politics."

These days I think the 'sex' might be changed to "sexual orientation."

Out of politeness I keep most of my political beliefs to myself. I mean in the real world of course. Here I pretty much let loose.

Posted by: Tripp on January 30, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

27 year old HRC supporter here.

I agree with what others have said about becoming politically aware during the Clinton years. In addition, this awareness extended to the 2000 election. This was the first time I voted in a national election, and it definitely had an effect on how I assess candidates.

Bush ran as an amiable unity candidate while Gore was criticized for being cold and wonkish among other things. Needless to say, history is on Gore's side, and as a result, I am highly suspicious of vague and unverifiable MSM characterizations of candidate personalities. I am not looking for a president to have a beer with. I want tangibles and HRC offers that.

Posted by: rg on January 30, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Its a statistical artifact.

That 25-29 age cohort is the smallest of the exit poll's age categories -- 4% in FL and 7% in NH. I don't know what the sample size of the exit poll was but let's say it was n=1000.

That means the n-size on 25-29 year olds in FL was 40 and in NH 70 which means the margin of error on 25-29 year olds in FL was +/-15.5 points and in NH it was +/-11.7 points. 18-24's in NH were 11% of the sample so the MOE on them would be +/-9.3 points; in FL 18-24's were 9% so their MOE is +/-10.3 points.

Don't forget that's plus OR minus. So you need a difference of at least 25.8 points percentage points in FL and 21 percentage points in NH before it reaches statistical significance. But wait the MOE is even wider than that! That margin of error applies to a single given number (e.g. how many 25-29's voted for Hillary). The margin is even larger when you look at the difference between two numbers as when you look at the margin of Hillary vs. Obama voters. In fact, the margin of error is roughly 1.5 x the MOE on a single number so you need a a difference of about 30-40 points in the margin of 2 candidates' votes among 18-24 vs. 25-29 year olds before it is significant.

Of course these calculations all change if the exit poll sample size was larger but it would have to be MUCH larger before you could say there was a significant difference between those age groups.

Posted by: Junius Brutus on January 30, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Criminy. This so-called difference is from a survey of about 60 people. 29 support Clinton, 10 Edwards, and 20 Obama, with one going to Kucinich. The 18-24 group is about 75 people, of which about 30 supported Clinton, 6 Edwards, and 37 Obama, with one or two going 'elsewhere'. The 30-39 group is 150. None of these are sufficient samples for distinguishing the small differences we see.

The 95% confidence interval on these numbers would be like +/- 11 or 12 points. That is, Clinton's numbers have a confidence range from 30% and 52% among 18-24, 38% and 62% among 25-29, and 30% and 46% among the 30-39 set. So there was a bulge for Clinton among 25-29 year olds in NH and FL. The pattern was exactly the opposite in SC - there Clinton underperformed in the 25-29 range relative to her support among 18-24 year olds. Michigan had a smooth-ish curve from young to old, with Clinton's support weakest among 18-24, strongest among 30-39, and 25-29 in between.

There is no 'there' there.

Posted by: rvman on January 30, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

People in their 30's primarily remember and came of age during two presidencies: Reagan's and Clinton's. They saw examples of presidents who could engage the public and use the bully pulpit. Now they look at the Democratic choices and they see those same qualities in Obama and not in Clinton.

Young people 18-24 tend to be idealistic and are drawn to Obama because he is all about vision and big ideas. Hillary Clinton is running on a very pragmatic competence and getting things done platform which is impressive but does not inspire people or engage people's imagination.

Hillary is running on the specifics of what she can do. Obama is more abstract and let's his audience use their imagination about what he can lead the whole country to do together. If you think the latter is more effective, you've got company...look around you and at those packed venues that Obama is speaking to these days.

Posted by: david in norcal on January 30, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Once you hit the real world, as the 25-29 have done--you get real and practical about many things--which is to Hillary's benefit. And this is not their first voting experience/campaign-- 2000 was that for them.

The 30somethings for Obama i can't explain.

I'm a 40something and i wanted Edwards. I've never believed Obama's bs for a second--I don't think Obama himself does, either. And the only thing in Hillary's favor for me is that she's a fighter and a survivor--and already vetted.

Posted by: amberglow on January 30, 2008 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

I do know that many 30-somethings are far more obedient than my group, and were the "Just Say No" kids under Reagan--maybe that has something to do with it?

Posted by: amberglow on January 30, 2008 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone has to check out the article “White Voters with a Side of Hispanics” on the blogzine Savage Politics. This is an awesome discussion and analysis on the current Democrat and GOP candidates and their eligibility.

Here is an excerpt: “Tuesday night’s Florida Primary was a very important episode in the drama in which both the Republican and Democrat Parties are unfolding towards the Presidency of the United States. It also dramatically demonstrated the incredible bias that the Media continues to display towards the Democratic hopeful Barack Obama, in spite of all the evidence pointing to his lack of viability. From MSNBC’s Chris Mathews, who openly stated the day before that any Network that decided to report on the Democratic voting results in Florida was proving a “gross” favoritism for Hillary (ironically enough his Network ended up having to cover it nevertheless), to CNN’s pundits, who continuously utilized the exact same rhetoric that the Obama Campaign was spewing to excuse their defeat (”Beauty Pageant” was their favorite phrase, with all the sexist connotations it implies). All the same, the Florida results in the Democratic side were overwhelmingly favorable to Hillary Clinton, who won a 50% margin, to Obama’s 33%, Edwards’ 14%, and Gravel’s 1%. On the Republican side, it was John McCain who came out victorious with a 36% margin, to Romney’s 31%, Giuliani’s 15%, Huckabee’s 14%, and Paul’s 3%. Let’s discuss each Party’s results and their realistic consequence.
First, we have the very significant victory of John McCain. His candidacy was, from the very start, labeled as a failure due to his unpopularity amongst most “base” Republicans, much of it owed to McCain’s overwhelmingly dubious record on Conservative issues. His notorious tendency to side with multiple (highly despised) Democrats on issues like Immigration, Bush’s Tax Cuts and other measures, have always been enough to marginalize him from even the “moderate wing” within his Party. Still, when the Florida Exit Polls are analyzed, they reflect many unexpected re-alignments in his favor. Evangelical/Born Again Christians voted for John McCain in a 30% margin, in comparison to both Romney’s and Huckabee’s 29%. This may seem like an insignificant difference, but when you also consider that the majority of non-Evangelicals (Catholics, Atheist, etc.) also…” Find the rest of the article at http://savagepolitics.com/?p=64

Posted by: Elsy on January 30, 2008 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm 31. I support HRC because I've spent my entire political adulthood supporting losers and whether or not Obama can win I have no illusions about him "changing Washington." I expect him to fail, much as Bill Clinton did. Since I am pre-disappointed, I am happy to support Clinton, who I trust to not make the same mistakes her husband did with a Democratic Congress.

I don't identify with the Clinton pyschodrama and don't want to relive the late '90s. I fear we're going to relive them with whomever is elected, and I trust her to stand up to it and actually get Congress to work with her.

Do I think Obama is a safer choice for the election? Yes. But I fear that his presidency would accomplish less, and he'd leave office like Jimmy Carter.

Younger people aren't beaten down like me.

The older ones converge in age with Obama and can identify with him more.

That's my theory.

Posted by: Brittain33 on January 31, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK



Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM

buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly