Younger Voters Appear to be More Pro-Life, Pro-Gay Rights Than Older Voters

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 4, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Younger Voters Appear More Pro-Life, Pro-Gay Rights Than Older Voters

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 4
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — Two authors have released a new book called "Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream" that is generating significant discussion on the Internet. The book makes the case that younger voters are more pro-life and more pro-gay than their older counterparts.

Ross Douthat, of The Atlantic and Reihan Salam are behind the new tome.

They make the assertion that "the young are more supportive of gay rights and more skeptical of abortion on demand" than older voters.

Douthat, relying on information from a Pew survey, expands on the thesis in a blog post on Thursday and says the "intergenerational trend is notable" and that "teens and twentysomethings are no less pro-life than their elders, even though they’re more socially liberal on most other fronts."

"The deeper question, of course, is why this should be so – why are social conservatives holding their ground (and maybe gaining some) on abortion even as the country moves leftward on the nest of issues surrounding sexual orientation?"

"There are lots of possible answers, but the simplest one probably has to do with the nature of a liberal society, the kind of arguments that find traction in a liberal regime – and the kind that don’t," he writes.

Douthat suggests that younger voters, who are inclined to be more liberal than their parents’ or grandparents’ generation, view political topics in terms of freedom. While they support the freedom of a gay person to have a different kind of relationship they also support the freedom of the unborn child to live and not be forced to die in an abortion.

He also suggests the pro-life movement scored points with younger, liberal voters by using the "right" to life language as most liberal issues are couched in "rights" terms.

As such "pro-lifers are playing the best hand they possibly can" that attracts both older more conservative voters and their younger counterparts.

Alisa Harris, a writer at World Magazine, noticed the same trend.

While Douthit relies on data for all voters, Harris points to polling data among evangelicals to show that younger voters are both pro-life and pro-gay.

"Douthat is looking at the younger generation as a whole, but you see the same trend among young white evangelicals," she writes.

Harris refers to a Religion and Ethics Newsweekly survey that shows 58 percent of young white evangelicals support civil unions or marriage for gays while 71 percent take a pro-life position and say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.

The good news for the pro-life movement in the polling data appears to be that, while younger voters — and even evangelicals — depart with older voters on other social issues, they continue to support the pro-life position on abortion.

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