Predicting Voting Behavior Based on Formative Historical Experiences

As a political science hobbyist, I have a theory on the political influences of generations, based on when they and their children came into political awareness:

If parents were teens in the Eisenhower 1950s, and their children were teens in the Reagan 1980s, and they lived primarily in a geographical region that votes “red” (Republican), there’s at least a 60 percent chance that both generations will be Republicans.

Conversely, If parents were teens in the Kennedy-Johnson 1960s to anti-Nixon 1970s, and children were teens in the Clinton 1990s, and they lived primarily in a geographical region that votes “blue” (Democratic), there’s a 60% chance both generations will be Democrats.

Taking it back further, if parents were teens during the prime Roosevelt years (1932-42) — if they had stark memories of the Great Depression, and their children were teens during the prime Kennedy-Johnson or anti-Nixon years (1960-1974), with stark memories of segregation or the Vietnam War, there’s a 60% chance parent(s) and children vote Democratic.

The generation whose first and primal political experience was the social cohesion and conformity of the 1950s, a modern home in the suburbs with new appliances and fancy new cars, lived their version of the American dream and taught their values to their children. Their children then embraced the entrepreneurial spirit of Reagan-ism, which was a natural follow-up to Eisenhower-ism.

In turn, the Clinton years were a natural follow-up to the Kennedy years.

It’s possible the Bush years are a natural follow-up to the Reagan years. Time will tell, based on what happens to the economy and in Iraq.

This theory is an over-simplification, of course. Many factors shape political views. Politics is not a science, but an art.

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