Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Young men are most (recklessly?) revolutionary

Continuing on from the previous post, "change" is the themed cliche that numerous candidates have made a point of emphasizing, Obama most successfully. That is, of course, a vague term that is difficult to gauge. It's not a value in itself as much as it is an attempt to present a contrast and offer an alternative to the status quo, to the ingrained party establishment.

Without getting caught up in the merit (or lack thereof), meaning, and sincerity of it, males are more willing to buck the trend. Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are the candidates who best proxy for a willingness to upset party unity for the 'most desirable' option rather than compromise in the name of making a less desirable outcome viable. Paul's male advantage among his supporters by state, thus far:

Iowa: 3-to-2
New Hampshire: 5-to-2
Michigan: 2-to-1
South Carolina: 5-to-2
Nevada: 3-to-2

Paul is known as a libertarian conservative, and libertarian leanings are more common among men. But libertarianism is, in itself, individualistic and relatively non-conforming.

Kucinich doesn't garner enough support for exit polls to reveal much, but in Iowa and New Hampshire, he snagged an estimated 2% of men to just 1% of women.

Obama too serves as an 'outsider' in his own right, though, if for no other reason because he's up against Hillary Clinton. He's enjoyed a male advantage among supporters in each of the three Democratic states that have gone thus far (though that's obfuscated by the presence of Hillary, as a female). But he does more clearly demonstrate another dimension of the 'changers'--they tend to be young. Obama's youngest cohort relative to oldest cohort advantage among his supporters, by state:

Iowa: 3-to-1
New Hampshire: 2-to-1
Nevada: 2-to-1

The same, for Paul:

Iowa: 5-to-2
New Hampshire: 6-to-1
Michigan: 5-to-1
South Carolina: 7-to-2
Nevada: 3-to-1

In Iowa and New Hampshire, where Kucinich garnered enough support for a difference in age cohorts to be apparent, younger voters were more supportive of him than were older ones.

For many attributes the male distribution tends to be wider than the female distribution is, meaning more men fall outside the 'mainstream opinion' or 'consensus' in the cultural-political realm (in '92, Perot's supporters were more likely to be young men than were Clinton or Bush supporters). From an evolutionary perspective, this isn't surprising. Men are more expendable. Their evolutionary role is more a winner-take-all competition than the female role is.

It's also not surprising that striplings are more willing to rock the political boat. They are less established than their older counterparts. They have less at stake in risking the status quo, both practically and psychologically, than older folks do.

That the electoral heft of older women is going to grow substantially in the coming years and decades makes me increasingly pessimistic about the the chances of 'radically overhauling' institutions (Social Security, Medicare, the taxation system, the 'benevolent dictator' approach to foreign policy, etc) before such changes are painfully forced upon us out of necessity.


al fin said...

Interesting question: what will be the fallout from the failure of Paul and Obama to win against more established interests?

Disillusioned Ron Paul boosters may be drawn to the "new country" movements that spring up every now and then.

Disillusioned Obama supporters may be drawn to Islam and Islamism--or to even more extreme "identity" politics.

When these young testosterone laden energies are thwarted, something has to give.

Audacious Epigone said...

Al Fin,

While Paul has said the chances of a third party run are slim, that's always an option. Such a candidacy would probably pull some disillusioned Obama supporters in, although it's conceivable that he becomes Hillary's running mate (although I think that's more likely to go to either Richardson, an old Clinton friend and more importantly a Hispanic, or someone like Jim Webb, to keep white middle America from rabidly voting in opposition).