Wednesday, June 13, 2007

America ready for a generational change in the 2008 election?

Barack Obama has gained a lot of support for being the "fresh face" in the Democratic field. Although the shine may be coming off the candidate, many people still feel that he gives the Democrats the best chance of victory in November 2008.

There is plenty to deconstruct about the Obama candidacy, but I've been wondering if America is ready for a passing of the torch between generations election. The 1960 election was a passing of the torch from the Lost Generation to the Greatest Generation. Dwight D. Eisenhower (born 1890) was replaced by the young and debonair John Kennedy (born 1917). Members of the Greatest Generation were between 36 and 49 when JFK won.

The 1992 election was a passing of the generational torch from the Greatest Generation to the Baby Boomers. The elderly George H.W. Bush (born 1924) was followed by the young and optimistic Bill Clinton (born 1946). Members of the Baby Boom were between 28 and 46 in January 1992.

For the 2008 election, could it be a passing of the torch between the Baby Boomer and Generation X? George W. Bush was born in 1946, just at the beginning of the Baby Boom. As were Hillary Clinton (1947), Bill Richardson (1947), and John Edwards (1953). Barack Obama literally belongs to the next generation with his 1961 birthday.

During the primary season of 2008, Generation Xers will be between 27 and 47.

Will Baby Boomers continue to flex their demographic muscle and elect one of their own to the White House or will Generation Xers put the first of their generation in the White House? I don't know, but I'd bet that the huge numbers of Baby Boomers combined with the higher voter turnout among the elderly will mean that the winner of the Democratic nomination in 2008 will be one of their own.

Updated: Looking at the US Census data, the number of Generation Xers appears to be equal to the number of Baby Boomers, so my assertion that the "huge numbers of Baby Boomers" will outvote the Generation Xers doesn't appear to be back by the numbers. That doesn't mean Barack will be the next president, but it probably helps his cause.