The big question that everyone is asking is whether this month's general election marked the beginning of a political realignment that will create a new dominant party. Have Americans shifted their loyalties and fundamental assumptions about the parties and about the government, or did we just witness a short-term reaction to years of bad news?First, we have to note that turnout, while up from 2004, was not the overwhelming turnout that Democrats and their media assistants would have you believe. It simply ain't so. But was this a "realignment" election. I don't think so.
We didn't really see any dramatic shifts in voting patterns. Yes, Obama won bigger amoung groups that had previously supported Kerry (see Hispanics and young voters), but Obama's gain was simply a matter of fewer voters in those groups being as divided as they were in 2004.
Rothenberg does point out one possible problem for Republicans in the future:
While the highly anticipated surge in younger voters never materialized, those voters younger than 30 who did participate went overwhelmingly for Obama, 66 percent to 32 percent. That 34-point margin was almost four times the 9-point margin that Kerry had with voters younger than 30.This is of course, true, but only so far as the premise, i.e. that these young voters carry their beliefs forward, a proposition I simply don't buy.
As many analysts have pointed out, if these younger voters carry that Democratic preference with them through their lives, they could constitute a strongly Democratic cohort for the next 40 or 50 years.
Yes, young voters (those who did turn out) turned out heavily for Obama. But it is my belief, backed up by experience, that as young voters age they begin to see the benefits of not having government in every aspect of your life, they begin to pay taxes to a greater extent, they begin to see the waste of governmental programs. Some become more entrenched in their views, but generally, most young voters have "soft views" on most issues that will affect them more later in life.
I have always believed that it is easy to be liberal when you don't have to foot the bill for your liberal views. But when that bill comes due, a lot of people begin to pause and think.