We can safely assume that in the Republican “Big Tent” there is currently no room for liberals. But if liberals can’t get into the tent, socialists are not even permitted on the circus grounds. The idea of a socialist president: positively un-American. (As the 1962 Chad Mitchell Trio song declared, parodically, “if mommy is a commie, then you gotta turn her in.”)*
We have heard a good deal of talk about how the demographics will be working against the GOP in the future, because there will be more people of color voting. Also, millennials are more liberal on social issues than GOP stalwarts, and they now comprise the largest generational cohort of Americans. But we haven’t heard enough about another problem that the GOP is going to face, namely, the political impact of the great recession, combined with growing economic inequality, on the youngest generation of voting Americans.
Gallup released a poll on June 22, 2015, under the rather misleading headline, “In U.S., Socialist Presidential Candidates Least Appealing.” This headline buried the lead. While it is true that the poll showed that Americans are less likely to vote for a socialist than a woman or Hispanic, for example, still, 47% of the sample said that they would be willing to vote for a socialist for president. This is in a country in which the word “socialist” has been used regularly as an epithet. This, however, is not the main story. The proportion of those age 18-29 willing to vote for a socialist is 69%. Yes, 69%!! In spite of having grown up hearing day in, day out, from FOX and every conservative outlet in the country, that socialists are devils incarnate, 69% would vote for one. This is a sea change.
Two of Gallup’s poll results are worth highlighting here. First, the percent of Americans by political affiliation willing to vote for people with various backgrounds, including socialist, for president. Next, a breakdown by age. Notice the huge disparity between the oldest and youngest generations on the question of their willingness to vote for a socialist.
*Here’s the Chad Mitchell Trio singing about mommie being a commie.