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The Age Gap: Evidence of a Realignment in U.S. Politics?
Unformatted Document Text:  younger voters for Ronald Reagan in both his presidential victories, which dispels the stereotype that younger voters tend to support relatively younger candidates. Since Bill Clinton’s reelection in 1996, however, the 18-34 age group has once again become the most Democratic, supporting Clinton, Gore, and Kerry more than other age groups. The most Republican age cohort over the past three presidential elections has been the 35-64 age group. The 65+ age group, on the other hand, has historically favored the winner of the overall popular vote 5 and since 1996 has voted in the middle of the three age cohorts. Figure 1 Partisan Vote for President by Age Group Since 1960 -50 -40 -30 -20 -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 1960 1964 1968 1972 1976 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 D em o crat - R ep u b lican % Age18-34 Age35-64 Age65+ Source: American National Election Studies, The 1948-2004 American National Election Studies Cumulative Dataset. Recent trends therefore indicate that younger voters tend to be more supportive of Democratic candidates than other age groups. Young Americans hold a markedly more positive view of Democrats than they do of Republicans: 58 percent said they had a favorable view of the Democratic Party and only 38 percent said they had a favorable view of Republicans. 6 As Figure 2 displays, Americans under the age of 35 are not only significantly more likely to support the 4

Authors: Fisher, Patrick.
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younger voters for Ronald Reagan in both his presidential victories, which dispels the stereotype
that younger voters tend to support relatively younger candidates. Since Bill Clinton’s reelection
in 1996, however, the 18-34 age group has once again become the most Democratic, supporting
Clinton, Gore, and Kerry more than other age groups. The most Republican age cohort over the
past three presidential elections has been the 35-64 age group. The 65+ age group, on the other
hand, has historically favored the winner of the overall popular vote
and since 1996 has voted in
the middle of the three age cohorts.
Figure 1
Partisan Vote for President by Age Group Since 1960
-50
-40
-30
-20
-10
0
10
20
30
40
50
1960 1964 1968 1972 1976 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004
D
e
m
o
c
r
a
t

-

R
e
p
u
b
l
i
c
a
n

%
Age
18-34
Age
35-64
Age
65+
Source: American National Election Studies, The 1948-2004 American National Election
Studies Cumulative Dataset.
Recent trends therefore indicate that younger voters tend to be more supportive of
Democratic candidates than other age groups. Young Americans hold a markedly more positive
view of Democrats than they do of Republicans: 58 percent said they had a favorable view of the
Democratic Party and only 38 percent said they had a favorable view of Republicans.
As Figure
2 displays, Americans under the age of 35 are not only significantly more likely to support the
4


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