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The Hidden 30-year Trend That Has Dem Operatives Salivating

Among the longest standing assumption among political practitioners is that young voters start liberal and move to the right as they age.

The narrative goes that voters under thirty are traditionally heavily influenced by outspoken peers or lefty college professors. These youthful voters move to the right, however, as they begin careers, pay taxes and have children.

Pollsters watched as Baby Boomers and Gen Xers took predictable paths to voting Republican. The assumption is that Millennials will follow the same course.

They will not.

The chart below shows the generation gap in presidential voting since Jimmy Carter. A few items to note about this chart:

- The generation gap in voting has never been wider. The apparent drop in 2012 is exaggerated because many Millennials turned thirty between presidential elections and were counted in the 30 and over crowd in 2012.

- For most of the last thirty years, there really has not been a generation gap. Younger Boomers and all Gen Xers generally did not swing hard for one party over the other. In fact, the average pre-Obama vote gap was only 3.6 percent.

Millennials are a radically different generation from their parents with regards to communication and social traits. In the coming weeks we will explore what the data says about this large generation and why they will not follow traditional political behavior patterns…and why that matters to Florida’s future.

Enjoy the interactive chart and if you like it, please share it.

Data from Pew Research Center


The Meaning of 2010?

We are in the process of creating the first Data Intelligence Briefing, which will take a data-driven look at which districts could switch hands in the next few cycles (The brief will be free, just sign up for our email list on the sidebar).

The chart below shows a line graph depicting GOP performance trends in GOP held seats over the last four cycles.

In general, there is a slight GOP downward trend with the exception of the 2010 cycle. Depending on who you ask, the 2010 cycle was either a sign that Florida is stabilizing politically or just a “bump” on the road to a progressive majority.

The blue line in the chart below shows the average for all GOP seats. The red line gives us a look at what the trend would be if 2010 were just a “fluke.” For the red line, we used Governor Scott’s performance in 2010 to “smooth” out the 2010 bump.

The 2010 question matters because it impacts how you plan for the 2014 cycle specifically and how you view Florida’s political future generally. Will Florida midterm elections remain GOP favorable? Can the Obama campaign machine drive turn out without Obama on the ticket?

If you believe the blue line, the GOP decline is very slight with the average downward slope of .05% per cycle. In essence, securing substantial GOP majorities in congress and the legislature.

If you believe the red line however, the GOP decline is substantial with a dozen Republican held seats showing average performance declines of 1% or more each cycle. In the red line scenario, there would be several new competitive seats.

Let us know your thoughts on the meaning of 2010 via Twitter, Facebook or the comments section below. Our upcoming Data Intelligence Briefing will dive deeper into these questions so make sure to sign up for our email list on the sidebar.

Note: We used the average GOP performance in statewide races to determine the performance for each year. Performance figures are for 2012 drawn seats had those boundaries existed in the 2006, 2008 and 2010 cycles.

Avg GOP Performance Per GOP Held Seat (2006-2012)

Where Republicans Shop for Margin

One of the big questions in Florida politics right now is how to grow the GOP coalition. The viz below shows a county by county map of where Republicans live and a bar graph showing what percentage of registered Republicans in each county are super voters.

A super voter is someone who has cast a ballot in all of the previous four elections (general and primary). Parties love super voters because they always vote and  little time or money needs to be spent motivating them to vote.  If one wants to create more super voters (and every political leader does), the best place to start is by studying existing super voters.

The viz  below is interactive, please explore and share any trends you see in the data. For any of you budding data wonks out there, the raw can be downloaded for your own exploration.