Voter Rolls Forecast Bad News for Conservatives

I wrote last week of the youth vote and voter registration patterns in Connecticut, predicting that the striking increases in Democratic registrations nationwide would impact not only the presidential race but also the rest of the ballot this November. Jennifer Steinhauer wrote on the same theme in Monday’s New York Times. The change is substantial; buried in the article is its long-term significance:

Swings in party registration are not uncommon from one year to the next, or even over two years[…] But for a shift away from one party to sustain itself — the current registration trend is now in its fourth year — is remarkable, researchers who study voting patterns say.

Since 2005, the number of voters registering with the Republican party has decreased while the numbers of Democrat-affiliating voters and unaffiliated voters have increased. Of the 29 states that register voters with a party affiliation, over half have seen an increase in share of the population identifying as Democrat. NDN has been making this case -- on these terms -- for quite a while now. In fact, my favorite part of the article was when Steinhauer reinforced NDN’s argument that the country’s shift to a more Millennial and more Hispanic demography favors progressives:

In many states, Democrats have benefited from a rise in younger potential voters, after declines or small increases in the number of those voters in the 1980s and ’90s. The population of 18- to 24-year-olds rose from about 27 million in 2000 to nearly 30 million in 2006, according to Census figures.

Dowell Myers, a professor of policy,planning and development at the University of Southern California, also noted that a younger, native-born generation of Latinos who have a tendency to support Democrats is coming of age.

Further, young Americans have migrated in recent years to high-growth states that have traditionally been dominated by Republicans, like Arizona, Colorado and Nevada, which may have had an impact on the changing registration numbers in those places.

Let’s take a look at what NDN has been saying.

First, we’ve noted that the Millennial generation has consistently displayed progressive values and has voted more heavily Democratic than other generations in their first few elections. New Politics Institute friends and collaborators Morley Winograd and Michael Hais argue that the Millennial generation represents a fundamental shift in American politics, a prediction reflected in these registration statistics, in their book Millennial Makeover. Moreover, in their NPI paper Progressive Politics of the Millennial Generation, they observed the striking disparity between Republican and Democratic Party identification among Millennials.

Secondly, NDN has been on the forefront of understanding how America's Latino population is changing American politics. Andres has been following Latino preferences for the presidential race consistently on our blog. (For full coverage, see McCain has a Latino Problem, Gallup Poll Finds Obama Continues Leading McCain Among Hispanics, and McCain struggling with Hispanics.) As early as March, invoking data from our major report Hispanics Rising II, Andres wrote:

The findings of our research confirm trends in the Hispanic community that we saw emerge in 2006 – Hispanics are trending very Democratic and voting in much higher numbers. So far this year, 78% of Hispanics who have voted in Presidential election contests have voted Democratic. In those states where Hispanics are tracked, results have shown a dramatic increase in their share of the overall vote, skyrocketing 67%, from 9% of the overall vote in 2004 to 15% in 2008.

Steinhauer even cites evidence for NDN’s argument that progressives can succeed in taking their case to exurbs. In 2006, NDN argued that the increasing diversification of the exurbs would challenge their trend of conservativism.

In many major metropolitan areas, suburbs that were once largely white and Republican have become more mixed, as people living in cities have been priced out into surrounding areas, and exurban regions have absorbed those residents who once favored the close-in suburbs of cities.

These changes in voter registration patterns forecast what could happen this fall. The New York Times included a handy graphic that's worth checking out. Observe that among the seven states experiencing the most dramatic increases in the Democratically-affiliated share of voters, two are states which voted Republican in 2004 – two of 2008’s top swing states – Iowa and Nevada. Also note that perennial swing states Pennsylvania and New Hampshire made the list.

How is it playing out already? Democrats’ 2006 state-level victories in Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire may forecast additional gains in states NDN sees as highly competitive this fall. I thought also of freshmen Senators like Claire McCaskill (MO) and Jim Webb (VA), potential bellwethers for November’s Electoral College map. These voter registration numbers are more in a series of indications that conservative ascendancy has ended and a political shift is underway.

All I'm sayin' is that you heard it here.


The Phenomenal Numbers Behind Young Voter Turnout

Rock the Vote just came out with a nice two-page fact sheet that lays out the essential numbers behind the surge in turnout for young people in the 2008 campaign. We’ve been talking a lot about this phenomenon, and we had a Rock the Vote person speak at our day-long event last Friday, but sometimes it’s nice to look at the cold, hard facts.

  • Young people from age 18 to 29 have doubled their numbers in the presidential primaries this year. This is the combined number of all youth in both parties and is measured against the last competitive primary (2004 for Dems and 2000 for Republicans).
  • If you look at individual state numbers, some of the states tripled the turnout of young people, and no state with valid numbers showed less than a 40 percent increase.

So you may say that, sure, youth turned out, but so did all kinds of groups. However, youth increased their turnout by much more than any age group. This is measured by the all-important percentage “share” of the electorate. If you consider all ages taking a slice of the pie of the electorate, the Millennial Generation’s slice grew by taking more of the pie from the slices of the other age groups.

  • In the average of all Democratic primaries, youth went from 10 percent of the 2004 primaries to 14 percent of the 2008 ones.
  • In every single state that held a Democratic primary so far, the youth “share” of the electorate went up. In Iowa, they went as high as 22 percent of the electorate.  Almost a quarter of all voters were Millennials there, in the state that started Obama’s rise.

The Republican numbers for increases in share of the youth vote are less dramatic, and in a few states they did not increase, but nevertheless, the general trend is playing out there too. Youth of all ideological stripes are more engaged in politics than we have seen in a long time, though that is particularly true on the Democratic and progressive side.

We at the New Politics Institute have been promoting this important constituency for years and it is incredibly gratifying to see this playing out so dramatically on the ground and so graphically in the numbers.

Peter Leyden
Director of the New Politics Institute

Great event today, more coming up

NDN has a very aggressive schedule over the next few weeks. I'll be involved in many of these events, and am excited to reconnect with many of you.

Today in DC, we host an excellent event on how the most important medium of politics, television, is changing. It will showcase a remarkable panel of experts, including the head of audience research for TiVo, who among other things, will be discussing the impact of DVRs on how people are now relating to their TV. You won't want to miss this one.

Next Monday, I will be in New York hosting a forum on the growing power of the Millennial Generation, the largest generation in American history. Joining us will be Morley Winograd and Mike Hais, the two authors of a critically acclaimed new book, Millennial Makeover, and the man who introduced us to the whole Millennial concept, something NPI has done a great job promoting the last few years. Also joining us will be two people who work closely with Millennials, Jon Schnur of New Leaders for New Schools and Alicia Menendez of Rock the Vote.

The following Monday, May 5, again in New York City, I will be hosting a Bernard Schwartz Forum on Economic Policy that will celebrate the compelling new book of our Globalization Initiative Chairman, Dr. Robert Shapiro. Rob's book is a far-reaching look at how the world is likely to play out over the next 15 to 20 years, and the forum will be a discussion you won't want to miss. It will also be a good opportunity to talk politics and look at what is happening on the national stage these days.

Finally, I'll be back in DC on May 9, where Peter Leyden and I will be hosting a day-long working session on the important new tools and new audiences critical to 21st century politics. This event will feature several plenary sessions but will also include 10 or so breakouts to help our family drill down further on specific tools or demographics you might want to learn more about. We've got a terrifc line up of speakers and panelists, which you won't want to miss.

Of course there is more than even all this. We are hosting U.S. Rep. Barney Frank on May 20 here in DC, and have many more events in the hopper that we hope to announce soon. Additionally, the able NDN/NPI team is producing a great deal of new and dynamic content each day, which is best viewed here on our blog.

So keep coming back here, and I hope to catch many of you at our many interesting events over the next few weeks.

Millennial Makeover in the Chronicle, NYT, and Wired

As many of you know, we've been promoting a fascinating new book by Morley Winograd and Mike Hais called Millennial Makeover. We've been encouraging people to check it out because we want more people to learn about the fascinating millennial generation. But don't just take our advice. The book has been well received in the press and on the blogosphere. The latest mentions include Carla Marinucci's front-page article from the San Francisco Chronicle, Michiko Kakutani's review in the New York Times, and Sarah Lai Stirland's piece in Wired.

To catch Millennial Makeover's coauthors in action, come to our event in NYC on April 28 or watch the video of them below from our March 12 Forum. You can also learn more about Millennials at our May 9 event, New Tools, New Audiences.

Take This Opportunity to Lean More about the Millennial Generation's Impact on Politics

The Millennial Generation, a name coined for the first generation to come of age in the new millennium, is an audience that we at NDN and the New Politics Institute have studied extensively. Having worked with preeminent Millennial experts like the late William Strauss, we know how truly unique this dynamic generation is. And they are changing politics in a way we haven't fully understood until now.

The Millennials are an unusual generation, not like young people we have seen for a long time. As first noted by Strauss and Neil Howe, they are not individualistic risk-takers like the Boomers or cynical and disengaged like Generation Xers. Research indicates that Millennials are civic-minded, politically engaged and hold values long associated with progressives, such as concern about economic inequalities, desire for a more multilateral foreign policy and a strong belief in government.

In their new book, Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics, Morley Winograd and Mike Hais explain how Millennials are driving the next historic political realignment. Like prior shifts, this one is rare - the first since 1968 - and is marked by generational and technological change. It also rewards one political party more than the other. This time, as the co-authors point out, progressives stand to benefit the most from the shift. We obviously agree.

Their argument, which was articulated on our blog and in an op-ed for the Washington Post, is consistent with the work we at NDN and NPI have done. Our essay, The Greatest Generation Yet, set up our two reports on the Millennial generation, which you can find here and here. We've also done a video report on their behavior, and reported on two new tools they utilize on a day-to-day basis: mobile phones and social networking sites. For video of past events, including this one of William Strauss discussing generations at our 2006 Annual Meeting, check out our website at, or

A little information about the authors: Morley is a former policy advisor to Vice President Gore, and Mike is a former pollster, professor and Vice President at Frank N. Magid Associates. They've participated in the political process almost as long as they've studied it. And we're happy to have introduced their ideas to our family across the nation. They provided the keynote to our March 12 forum and will be featured at a West Coast event in San Francisco today, April 17, and an East Coast event in New York City, on April 28.

But don't just take our word for it: Morley and Mike's book has received great reviews from The Wall Street Journal and

The two authors will use the findings of their book to discuss the potential impact of the Millennial Generation, in this political cycle as well as in the decades to come. Event details for both San Francisco and New York are below:

Discussions with Mike Hais and Morley Winograd, co-authors of Millennial Makeover

Thursday, April 17
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Fairmont Hotel
Crystal Room
950 Mason St.
San Francisco
Click here to RSVP

Monday, April 28
6 p.m.
Harvard Club
Cambridge Room
35 W. 44th St.
New York
Click here to RSVP


Millennials Makeover the Four Ms of Politics

With the showdown primaries on March 4 over and the outcome of at least the Democratic contest still to be finally decided, it is a good time to point out what the 2008 primary campaigns have already made clear about the future of American politics. After this year, the four basic elements of any campaign-Messenger, Message, Media and Money-will never be the same. Those candidates who have adjusted all four of these dials and tuned them to Millennial Generation sensibilities and behaviors have been the most successful candidates in both party's primaries.

Millennials, those Americans born between 1982 and 2003, are the most diverse generation in American history. Forty percent of them are African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American or of some other mix of races and ethnicities. And twenty percent come from an immigrant family. A candidate like Barack Obama, whose bi-racial family and generational roots extend from slave owners in America to Kenyan goat herders and social workers in Indonesia, is not an oddity in their minds but has the model background for an American leader.

Eighty percent of Millennials have done some sort of community service in high school. . Eighty-five percent believe that directly contributing something to the community is an important way to improve it. When Senator Obama traces his experience to his days as a community organizer in Chicago, older generations tend to dismiss it as posturing and beside the point in gaining the experience required to government work. Millennials, by contrast, consider community service just the kind of experience they would like to to put on their resume when they apply for a job. Discounting its importance sounds to them like a dismissal of their own accomplishments. Indeed an examination of the biographies of many of the winning Democratic challengers in the 2006 Congressional elections shows this same penchant on the part of new voters to value a career of service over one spent learning the inner workings of the legislative process. It's also a reason why Senator McCain's service to his country in Vietnam and his stay in the Hanoi Hilton attracts rather than repels this new generation of voters, in spite of the attempts of a feminist icon of the 1960s to minimize the importance of that service.

Millennials have been taught since their parents first sat them down to watch Barney that the best way to approach problems is to find a solution that works for everyone in the group---since everyone is just as good and important as everyone else. The confrontational style of Baby Boomer candidates like Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney strikes them as rude, enough to earn them a time out until they learn how to play nice. By contrast, the unifying message of Barack Obama who suggests, somewhat naively to the ears of older voters, that his solution to the problems of America will be to get everyone around the table to work things out for the good of the country is exactly in tune with the way Millennials have been taught to solve problems. When John McCain distanced himself from Bill Cunningham's typical talk radio ideological rant, he earned the enmity of many of Cunningham's colleagues. But he spoke directly to Millennials who are looking for candidates who refuse to engage in that kind of name-calling.

But McCain, like all of the 2008 Republican presidential candidates (with the possible exception of Fred Thompson) , remained unable to embrace the social networking technologies that are the lifeblood of Millennials' daily lives. Having their children text friends sitting in the same car or "friending" people they barely know on MySpace are common Millennial behaviors that drive parents crazy. But the two most important possessions of any Millennial are their cell phone and their laptop, devices that allow them to stay connected to the Net 24/7. That type of peer-to-peer communication is the center of Barack Obama's media strategy. It has been the key to the organizational strength that Obama has demonstrated in caucuses across the country. Political pundits who still follow the news on the television news shows or in the newspapers don't see the enormous volume of personal communication being generated on, built on the same operating system as FaceBook, until the electoral results once again seem to stun them on any given Tuesday night. Having ceded the lead in peer-to peer-media to the Democrats, especially Obama, rather than almost totally relying on older technologies, like talk radio and slick television commercials, the Republicans risk losing as badly in 2008 as they did to an earlier master of a new communication media, FDR, with his soothing radio voice, in 1932.

The same online engine that is generating all of the offline , grass roots enthusiasm for Obama is also raising money for his campaign in unprecedented ways and in unimaginable amounts. With one million of his friends on his website, Obama has now raised more money from more people than any candidate in American political history. Obama's use of this new media with appeals for small donations almost drove the Clinton campaign into bankruptcy and is likely to create a similar untenable disadvantage for John McCain in the general election. Ironically, it was McCain who first demonstrated the power of the Net to raise a lot of money fast in his aborted 2000 campaign. But that was long before broadband and social networks being accessed continuously all day long became the way of life for so many young voters. Now McCain and his party are forced to attempt to shame Obama into using public financing in the general election. That may be the only way they can avoid the kind of monetary deficits that Democrats and the federal government have experienced in the past.

The outcome of the Democratic contest, let alone the general election campaign is not pre-ordained. Events over the next eight months can cause public opinion to change direction. But the relative ease with which Barack Obama has woven a tightly knit strategy based on a new approach to what the profile of a Presidential candidate should look like; the fundamental appeal the candidate should make to the voters; the way that appeal should be communicated to all voters, but especially young ones; and the resources such an approach can bring to a campaign, makes his candidacy the most likely to succeed, with one possible exception. Hillary Clinton's success in most large states so far suggests that this new alignment of the four Ms of American politics has yet to be fully tested in campaigns requiring more complex organizational efforts over a longer period of time. In Silicon Valley terminology, it is not yet certain that this new configuration of the four Ms can "scale" to the size required to win a national campaign. Both the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania and the general election fight to come should provide the final test of this new approach to political campaigning and definitively establish a new formula for victory in the coming decades.

Morley Winograd and Michael Hais are the co-authors of a brand new book, Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics. Come see them at NDN's event on March 12th, "A Moment of Transformation?"

A Moment of Transformation - new updates

A Moment of Transformation?
A look at just how big a change may be coming to politics, America and the world

Top Experts coming together for this day-long event on March 12th in
Washington D.C. to discuss how multiple transformations in America
and the world could be catalyzed by a transformation in politics

The political world is in a moment of transformation with many unprecedented developments rapidly coming together amidst widespread calls for deep, systemic change. But our politics is part of a larger series of transformations happening in many fields across America and the world.

Come to a day-long gathering in Washington D.C. on March 12th where NDN and the New Politics Institute bring together leading thinkers and experts as they lay out the potential for transformative change in their fields and talk about the implications for politics and governing:

  • On the unprecedented evolution of the global economy into one increasingly integrated whole, join Dr. Robert J. Shapiro, author of the new book, Futurecast: How Superpowers, Populations, and Globalization Will Change the Way You Live and Work.
  • On the vast array of practical, ready-to-implement new technologies and efficient practices to green the economy, join Amory Lovins, the famous head of the Rocky Mountain Institute and author of Winning the Oil Endgame.
  • On one big, bold initiative about how to quickly scale up an overhaul
    of transportation from gas-powered to electric, join entrepreneur Shai Agassi, founder of Project Better Place.
  • On game-changing government policies, join Elaine Kamarck, soon
    to be co-chair of the Climate Task Force, a new organization bringing
    business and environmentalists together around the most effective ways
    to address climate change.
  • On the new emerging world order, particularly the rise of the 21st century Asian powers of China and India, join Orville Schell, author of nine books on China and Director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society.
  • On the massive demographic shifts going on in America, such as the rise of the young Millennial Generation, join Morley Winograd and Michael Hais, coauthors of a brand new book, Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics.
  • On how these transformations in the private sector and civil society
    may or may not be catalyzed through politics and enacted by government,
    join a top panel of big picture political journalists, among them Matt Bai of the New York Time’s Sunday Magazine and John Heilemann, who writes for New York Magazine and formerly worked for Wired magazine.
  • On how all of this is integrated together and impacts politics, join hosts Simon Rosenberg, NDN President, and Peter Leyden, Director of the New Politics Institute.

The day will be organized around a series of relatively short presentations and discussion with the audience all integrated around the overarching theme of what’s really possible after this historic election in 2008. With all the talk on the campaign trail about change and transformation, what will it really mean to governing in the years ahead?

Come to this March 12th gathering and find out. Be sure to spread the word to all those who may be interested. The entire event is free and open to all, and includes lunch and a cocktail party. So RSVP today, invite your friends on Facebook, and forward this e-mail along to your network.

Date: March 12th, 10:00am - 6:00pm
Location: Capital Hilton, 1001 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
RSVP: Click here to RSVP

If you have questions about the event, contact Courtney Markey at 202-544-9200 or email at

America and race, 2008

Lots of news this Sunday morning, but we zero in on two important pieces - Frank Rich's Sunday column and a major Carolyn Lochhead essay in the SF Chronicle. Both take a look at theme we've written about a great deal - how our changing demography and Barack Obama's candidacy is starting a very important conversation about the changing nature of race in 21st century America.

From Lochhead's excellent article:

It seems odd that during a time of war and terrorism, a mortgage crisis, health care worries and a teetering economy, that race would assert itself. Last summer, the Democratic contest seemed destined to focus on Iraq. Instead, it has become a lesson in demography.

With few domestic policy differences separating Clinton and Obama, the patterns that have emerged revolve around age, income, education and the ethnic and racial composition of various voting blocs. Clinton has drawn her highest support from white women, Latinos, seniors and lower-income workers. Obama's inroads among each of those groups in Virginia recast the contest and now threaten Clinton's last hopes in Texas and Ohio on March 4.

"That race has become an issue in 2008 should come as no surprise in light of enormous immigration-driven population changes," said Simon Rosenberg...

"The country is undergoing its most profound demographic change in its history," Rosenberg said. "When I was born, the country was 89 percent white and 10.5 percent African American and 0.5 percent 'other.' Today, it's 66 percent white and 33 percent minority. We've seen a tripling of the minority population in the United States in a very short period of time."

Race began percolating as an issue most recently with the 2005 immigration debate, he said, and continued in that guise through the early GOP primaries, where he contends Republicans "demonized" Latinos. "For any civil society, that kind of transition is going to be hard."

Thanks to the fast-growing Latino vote, many analysts believe 2008 will be the year when a presidential election will be decided for the first time by minorities. Some contend that milestone was already passed when President Bush drew more than 40 percent of Latino voters in 2004, providing his victory margins in closely contested Southwestern states...

Frank Rich's op-ed covers similar terrain but in his typical penetrating fashion, talking about the GOP's embrace of its race-based Southern Strategy and this year's all white, very 20th century Presidential field. In the piece he refers to a new book, Millennial Makeover, by our good friend Morley Winograd, who is the one who introduced NDN and NPI to the importance of the coming Millennial generation.

For more on this whole subject of the changing demographics of America, come see Morley and his partner Mike Hais at our upcoming forum, A Moment of Transformation?, in Washington, DC on March 12th. It is free, open to the public and will be full of big ideas and powerful leaders. I hope you will join us.

You can find more on our thinking about our changing people in our recent magazine piece, The 50 Year Strategy, in our recent report Hispanics Rising and in a new essay, On Obama, Race and the End of the Southern Strategy and in our recent study, The Progressive Politics of the Millennial Generation.

And I will be talking directly about all this at a public NDN forum on the 2008 elections this Wednesday, Feb 20th, in Washington, DC. This one begins at 12:30pm, is open to the public and also features the ever interesting Joe Trippi and Amy Walter, the editor in chief of the Hotline. I hope you will join us for this one too.

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