Is 2020 a Youth Market for Dems?: Liner Notes

Another new column up at The Federalist today, titled “Democrats’ 2020 Candidate Options Don’t Look Good (Or Young).” That headline is the “glass half-empty” version of the thesis, which is that there’s a good chance Democrats will nominate a younger, lesser-known candidate for president in 2020 — and might do well with it.

What got left out? Oddly, I didn’t notice Dan McLaughlin’s chart of the ages of 2020 hopefuls vs Democrats elected president omitted JFK and Bill Clinton, whose inclusion would have underscored the point. JFK was 43.45 years old at his inauguration; Clinton was 46.42 years old at his. (In fairness, JFK ran against Nixon, who was only 4 years older than JFK, so the generational shift in 1960 was a lock).

I also might have elaborated upon — rather than just linking — Henry Olsen’s look at Millennial voting patterns by race.  The GOP’s “millennial gap” is really with white millennials; it basically disappears with non-white millennials. But as Olsen notes, what that really means is that the GOP needs to do better with minorities. The current version of the party does not seem too interested in that (and has been mostly been talk before that). I do not believe that demographics are destiny, but a GOP that actively repels minorities may help make it happen for Dems.

Lastly, I am skeptical of some of the broader cultural claims advanced by Peter Hamby in the Vanity Fair article which inspired the column. I try to avoid imputing motives to authors, but the subtext at Vanity Fair seems to be the “culture war” frame. It seems like Hamby thinks Trump “owns the culture” and it must be “won back.”  My column asserts that the very notion of a “culture war” conflicts with the idea of a single culture.  And to the extent we’re talking about pop culture, it remains very much in the hands of progressives, which is part of How We Got Trump.  In any event, our current cultural politics — and the brawling over the Clintons in 1992 — suggests any generational election will be pretty ugly.  Throw in the demographic shift on top of it and it could be even uglier.

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