You have to wonder if Carville has completely lost his mind after reading this bit of wishful thinking in the Financial Times.
Carville claims that Karl Rove has lost a generation of voters to the Democratic Party.
A late July poll for Democracy Corps, a non-profit polling company, shows that a generic Democratic presidential candidate now wins voters under 30 years old by 32 percentage points. The Republican lead among younger white non-college-educated men, who supported President George W. Bush by a margin of 19 percentage points three years ago, has shrunk to 2 percentage points. Ideological divisions between the Republican party and young voters are growing. Young voters generally favour larger government providing more services, 68 per cent to 28 per cent. On every issue, from the budget to national security, young voters responded overwhelmingly that Democrats would do a better job in government.
It should be noted that Democracy Corps is headed by...James Carville (along with Democrat pollster Stanley Greenberg).
I guess Carville's blathering would have more credence were it not so self-serving. It's not difficult to predict that Democrats will recapture the White House in 2008. Historically, the party that has held the presidency for two consecutive terms tends to lose it. So, Karl Rove "losing" young people may not even be a factor. People tend to vote for change after eight years with one party.
My biggest problem with Carville's argument (that young people prefer Democrats) is two-fold.
First, fewer young people vote. According to Civic Youth, only 47% of 18-24-year-olds voted in the 2004 presidential election. And while that sounds good, when only 70% of the U.S. population is even registered to vote, it doesn't look nearly as impressive. According to Carville's Democracy Corps propaganda--er, study, young people 18-31 will outnumber the baby boom generation and, therefore, are a significant demographic group. That will probably be true as this group ages, but since most of them don't vote now, there's plenty of time for them to change party affiliation.
Which brings me to my second point: people tend to become more conservative as they age. This isn't to say that "all" people become more conservative or that even large percentages swing to the right. But life experiences tend to make people more conservative. Why?
I used to discuss this with friends in law school this way: when you are young, you don't own anything. You don't have any (or very much) money. You believe there is a lot of injustice in the world and it should be fixed. How to fix it? Create laws against various discrimination and raise taxes on the rich so they pay their "fair share."
The problem is, when you don't own anything, talking about taking money from one group to give to another is an abstract concept. When you're the person earning the money, it's no longer an abstract concept. It's actually taking what you worked for to give to someone else who didn't do what you did. And when this is done against your will, we call this theft or taxation.
As we age, we advance in careers and earn more money. We get married, have kids, buy property, and create better lives. It is through these experiences that we become more conservative. It's not because we're greedy but because when you work and save, you think you should be allowed to keep what you get.
This is part of the reason people become more conservative as they age: they become more invested in the system as they work through it. Want tax breaks? Do things that get tax breaks (have kids, buy a house). Work hard and get promotions based on merit.
Carville is probably correct that this group will make a fearsome voting bloc eventually. But I doubt that it will be a Democrat voting bloc. Once the laws liberals want to put into place start pinching them, they will probably vote the scoundrels out.
Cross-posted at Common Sense Political Thought.