November 13, 2006
The Future Belongs to US
While the actual results seem razer-thin in this election, I'll be bold and argue that they are part of a significant move towards a more progressive future for America-- one foretold by the stolen 2000 election and only delayed by the hysteria of post-911 war fever. But when you look at shifts in voting patterns, especially among youth and latinos, it's clear the future belongs to progressives.
Kevin Drum, among others, is pooh-poohing the youth vote, arguing that youth turnout was nothing special this year. I think the key in looking at the youth vote, as well as the latino vote, is whatever the numbers year to year, these votes represent the future-- and we should all be wearing shades 'cause it looks so bright.
Young people may not be registering beyond belief turnout numbers, but their margins in favor of the Dems (60% in this election) means that we have a generation that, as they settle down and vote more consistently, are likely to futher reinforce progressive voting patterns. Similarly (and in some cases overlapping), the heavily Democratic latino voting patterns (69% in this election) means that you have a community that, as more gain the right to vote -- whether by legalization or just the children of undocumented turning eighteen, progressives will gain voting support.
Remember every four years, more progressive youth grow up to become voters and more immigrants are gaining citizenship -- whether through legalization or through the children of immigrants getting old enough to vote. The demographics are pretty relentless, as I've argued here in the past (I was wrong about it tipping the election in 2004 in the midst of terrorism fears, but the basic long-term trends hold, as evidenced by the election results Tuesday.)
What America is experiencing is what California experienced in the wake of the Prop 187 fight in that state back in 1994. The GOP won that year's election but a polarization of voting patterns, by both age and race, meant the future of California politics was lost for the rightwing -- Schwartzenegger's lunge for the center this year just emphasizing that point. In 1994, the Republican candidate received 67% of the vote of those over age 60, but only 42% of the vote of those under 30. That polarization was part of the dynamic that crushed the GOP is state legislative races and increasingly Congressional races throughout the state in the years to come.
Just for nostalgia, here's my 1994 analysis of that election and the youth vote posted to the pre-blogging Usenet world, an analysis that largely applies to the nation now:
Posted by Nathan at November 13, 2006 10:23 AM