Chris Bowers wrote a post last night at Open Left explaining why the Republicans are facing such a gloom and doom scenario with young voters. In “Getting Older Doesn’t Make You Less Black or Less Gay,” Bowers argues that whether or not one gets more conservative as he/she ages is irrelevant. As the minority groups making up a significant amount of the Millennial generation continue toward majority-minority status, their affinity for the Democratic Party and simultaneous rejection of the GOP will prove to be firm and fixed.

…Now young voters are breaking toward Democrats at record levels not just because they are young, but because they are non-white, non-Christian, and out of the closet.

This is significant, because while you might trade in your heart for your head when you get older, you don’t get more white, more Christian, or less gay with age. As such, Republicans are not going to start winning these voters over until they start performing better among non-Christians, non-whites, and the LGBT community…

While I agree with Bowers’ final conclusion, I feel compelled to fuss with one piece of the premise. Bowers gives a bit too much credence to the “with age comes conservatism” bit. In Rock the Vote’s “Partisanship: A Lifelong Loyalty that Develops Early,” released in February 2007, we learn that the only thing remarkable about aging and political preferences is the stability in partisan identification over time.

In 1964, the seminal work on this issue, The American Voter, echoes this point: the authors note that “…persons who identify with one of the parties typically have held the same partisan tie for all or almost all of their adult lives.”

“When we ask people to recall their first presidential vote, for example, we discover that of those who can remember their vote for President two-thirds still identify with the same party they first voted for.”

“A majority (56 per cent) of these presidential voters have never crossed party lines.”

Additional studies published in the 1990s bolster the finding that partisan identification is a remarkably stable factor over a voters’ life.

Partisan identification is, of course, not immovable; various factors, including candidate quality, major events (i.e. Watergate),and social factors (i.e. job loss, marriage) can move a voter to one party or another.

However, as noted in The American Voter, “[Partisanship is] a picture characterized more by stability than by change—not by a rigid, immutable fixation on one party rather than the other, but by a persistent adherence and a resistance to contrary influence.”

The disaffection between youth and the Republican Party is extensively chronicled throughout the blogosphere. The values which today’s youth deem critical — pragmatism, diversity, and cooperation among them — barely make an appearance in the operations and politics of today’s Republican Party. So Bowers’ post noting the progressive views of the ever-growing minority populations is just one more layer in the turbulent relationship.

Perhaps the most frightening graphic for the GOP referenced in Bowers’ post came from another post by Alan Abramowitz, at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Of those 18-29 year olds voting in 2008, over 50 percent identified with the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.

Should the GOP continue to rely on its white, conservative base for electoral success, failing to grow any youth movement within the party, the numbers can only get worse. Of course I’m just a concern troll to the GOP, so what do I know?

Bowers’ post, combined with the lessons learned from the Rock the Vote paper, is just one more sign of a seismic shift in store for American politics.

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