As we noted here in May, a couple of studies released last year produced surprising results about the average consumers of right-wing media.
We quoted Michael Woolf who wrote in Vanity Fair that the “dirty little secret of conservative talk radio is that the average age of listeners is 67 [so now 68] and rising … [The] Fox News audience, likewise, is in its mid-60s.” In addition, a Pew study in February 2009 found that 72 percent of Rush Limbaugh’s grizzled Dittoheads are men and so have a life expectancy of 75.6 years, which means this cohort will start to expire by 2017. Limbaugh will be 60 next January, which means he will be 67 when his average-aged listeners begin to die off.
A study released by Pew last week had more bad news for the conservative movement, both in the political realm and its propaganda outlets. The report’s title — “Democrats’ Edge Among Millennials Slips” — signaled an ominous development for the left, but a deeper dig produces much worse news for the right. It is dying. Literally.
First the bad news for Dems. Support for the Democratic party among the Millennial generation, the young people who came of age around 2000, dropped from 62 percent — an astronomical high in politics — in 2008 to 54 percent by late 2009. Conversely, Millennials’ support for the GOP was a dismal 30 percent (roughly equal to George W. Bush’s job approval approval during his second term) in 2008, but rose to a less anemic 40 percent by late 2009.
The 8 point drop in youth support for Dems was likely driven by disillusionment in the political process as Pres. Obama and the Democrats confronted the disasters they inherited — the Great Recession, the botched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the rest — from Bush and his Republican-controlled rubberstamp Congress. Bush was president throughout the Millennials’ early adulthood, and they, like many of their liberal elders, were too idealistic about how quickly the crises he left behind could be resolved — a factor that was exacerbated by Obama’s squishy campaign themes, “Hope” and “Change.”
Here’s what the Pew Report said:
The “Millennial Generation” of young voters played a big role in the resurgence of the Democratic Party in the 2006 and 2008 elections, but their attachment to the Democratic Party weakened markedly over the course of 2009. The Democratic advantage over the Republicans in party affiliation among young voters, including those who “lean” to a party, reached a whopping 62 percent to 30 percent margin in 2008. But by the end of 2009 this 32-point margin had shrunk to just 14 points: 54 percent Democrat, 40 percent Republican.
While the Republican Party picked up support from Millennials during 2009, this age group continues to favor the Democratic Party more than do other generations. And the underlying political values of this new generation continue to be significantly more liberal than those of other generations on many measures.
Now for the really — really — bad news for conservatives from the new Pew report. Let’s let Daniel Larison at The American Conservative be the messenger:
The percentage of self-identifying conservatives among Millennials is basically equal with that of self-identifying liberals (28 percent vs. 29 percent). The youngest generation of voters is unusually ill-disposed towards movement conservatism of the sort on display at CPAC, which is the event [Nile] Gardiner hails not only as proof that conservatism is the future but as an “intellectually vibrant” gathering…
[The] evidence we have available right now suggests that conservatism is losing, indeed has already lost, most of the next generation, and that conservatism as we know it today is going to keep losing ground in the future…
Republicans remain behind among all voters younger than 65. That does not seem to herald the future revival of movement conservatism of the sort Gardiner is so embarrassingly praising.
In fact, the youth presence at CPAC declined this year, again quoting from The American Conservative:
The percentage of students declined this year, to 48 percent from 52 percent in 2009. And the percentage of registrants aged 18 to 25 also declined this year, to 54 percent from 57 percent in 2009. (The percentage of those under 18 stayed the same both years — 2 percent.)
Of course, it is true that Fox News and Limbaugh have stronger ratings than liberal broadcasting outlets — some wags suggest this is because liberals can read. But what all these numbers say, loud and clear, is that the movement conservatism that dominated the culture in the late 20th century has little or no appeal among young voters, and this is bad news for the future of right-wing media.