What makes this true? (White men become more conservative as they age.)

On NPR this morning, one of the top news stories this morning was about President Obama making campaign pushes with the demographics of people that got him elected in 2008: younger people, African Americans and women.

Obviously left out of this generic mix are older white men. At one point these older white men were part of the “younger people” mix, so:

Why do white men tend to vote more republican as they get older? What changes from when they were younger and voted democrat?

I realize these are generalizations, and I didn’t intend this to become a debate topic, but interested in people’s opinions as to why these generalizations may b true.

I think some of them turn because they feel the need to protect their property and government services.

Speaking for myself only, the exact opposite is true. I have become more and more liberal as I have aged. I am now 58 and don’t mind if gays marry, support many gov. handout programs and no longer think everyone needs to carry a gun.

I think it’s the ‘old’ not the ‘white’ that is the crux of the biscuit.

What’s conservatism, at it’s core? A resistance to change. The more people experience, the more they want to cling to their experiences and not have things change. Old people have a lot of experiences. Change is scary … especially when you’re already beating back death.

Quite right. Someone recently asked me “what is the best thing about getting older?” And my answer was “the number of things that I no longer give a fuck about.” Including politics - I now realize the whole two party system is a pointless exercise in futility. They are all the same rich guys with all the same friends.

Then why don’t older women and older African Americans become generally more conservative?

Same here, although I’m more centrist than I used to be on some things.

I’ve gotten way more liberal as I’ve aged. Of course I started, in my teens, very very conservative - so I really only had one direction to go.

Maybe because for them, clinging to the status quo traditionally wasn’t a great thing? Things historically have been a lot better for white men than for women and blacks.

Is it a matter of people getting more conservative as they change, or more that older people were always more conservative because they grew up with norms we now consider out-of-date?

I’d say the experiences of old women and old black guys probably aren’t as gloriously recalled as those of old white guys.
ETA: … like Freudian Slit said

I don’t think this is the case, as the “older people of today” were the younger people 20-30 years ago. This generalization of democrats appealing to younger voters has been there for decades.

As I age I grow more and more liberal. I used to consider myself just right of center. Now I consider myself left of center - I’m not sure how far.

When we were kids, we were afraid of a lot of things we didn’t understand. As we age, we again fear. But, we fear things we cannot control

I believe as we “white guys” age, we tend toward the conservative because of fear.

One indication that this is part of the answer is the use of fear in political campaigns. Dems tend to point toward a bright tomorrow. Reps tend to point toward “something” being lost or taken away.


The older we get, the more we feel part of the haves and want to be protected from the have nots.

Disagree. I think it’s a matter of perspective rather than idealism or any sense of protecting my loot. For example, I’m very pissed with Democrats who voted for the stimulus, health care, etc., but who are now making excuses for their votes in order to grovel for votes. Either stand up for what you believe or get out of the fucking game.

It is NOT true.

Older white men become less conservative, or they become liberals in their old age.

For example, Lyndon Johnson, George Wallace, Barry Goldwater, and Congressmen Dingal and Stupak from Michigan all became liberals in their old age. Commonly, lots of white male Republicans begin their political career campaigning as conservatives, and end up becoming very liberal, RINO’s, or switch to Democrat.

On the other hand, I cant think of a single famous liberal who became a conservative in his old age.

So, if the young, African Americans, women and old white men are all liberal…who’s voting Republican?

Here (page 23) are poll-based estimates of the (Democratic) vote by age group from 1964 to 2004, with the “youth vote” defined as 18-to-29. In general elections fall into one of two categories:

(1) Elections where youth votes about the same as the rest of the country (1980, 1984, 1992, and 2000–Gore failed to connect with young voters, and it cost him the election.)

(2) Elections where youth votes more Democratic than the rest of the country (1972, 1996 [young people hated Dole], 2004 [even without a draft, war seems to turn off young voters}, and especially 2008 [Obama won 66-32%] ).

There has never been an election, since the advent of modern polling, in which young people voted more Republican than the nation as a whole.

So obviously, there is some tendency for young people to be more liberal, but it manifests itself very irregularly. I know of no evidence that this tendency is limited to, or more pronounced in, white males. I would need to see evidence of this assertion.

As for why this happens, I think it’s fairly obvious–as one’s environment moves from academics to commerce, and one (in many cases) establishes a family and property ownership, the attractions of limited government become more apparent. Of course many individuals never change, or change in the opposite direction; otherwise older cohorts would be voting overwhelmingly Republican, and they don’t. But enough people change to move the needle a few points in a nationwide poll.

Ronald Reagan?