Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Expectations for Demographics

A number of pundits have been using demographic data to map out the end of liberalism in America. For whatever reason, conservative pundits love to point out that Seattle has 45% more dogs than children. Since Seattle is a liberal place, this can only mean that liberals and their dogs will die out faster than they can reproduce, and voila!, permanent conservative majority, right? I'm no demographer and I have no data to back up my claims, but maybe the reason Seattle is approaching a 2:1 dog-to-kid ratio is because it's so damn expensive that families can't afford to live there anymore. Then again, according to this dataset, you're more likely to be a conservative if you like dogs, so maybe Seattle is actually the most conservative city in the US. Maybe I'm right, maybe the conservative pundits are right, the point is that cherry-picking demographic data that supports your pet thesis (no pun intended) and then extrapolating it out 20-30 years into the future is idiotic, which is exactly the point that Kevin Drum makes today.

It's probably true that religious conservatives are reproducing faster than their liberal counterparts. I'm even willing to concede that most of these kids will maintain a good chunk of their religious upbringing well into adulthood. What we cannot possibly know right now is how politics, religion, and culture will change in the future. After all, prior to the 1960s, the northeast was the power base of the Republican party and the south voted Democrat. Some people have their political affiliations imprinted on their minds at a young age and never deviate. For everyone else, the issues of the day influence their voting patterns.

Even if the important social and political issues remain the same, which is highly unlikely, the next generation of liberal and conservative politicians will have different attitudes and approaches than their predecessors. My gut feeling is that the post-boomer generation of political leaders are going to reject a lot of the culture war issues. They weren't there to take sides, so it will be much easier for both sides to cut their loses and stop arguing about the 1960s.

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2 comments:

MDS said...

Did you use a straight edge when you posted this? If you look closely, you will find two colors, a key / legend and clear labels. minus one for you.

dhodge said...

I didn't use a straight edge, but I did include a title (there are five expectations, not four).