The Pew Research Center has a fascinating look Thursday into the varying degrees of political partisanship across generations — and within them.
The new data comparison comes from more than 20 years of study from Pew into different generations’ political leanings. The study found that you can get a pretty good indication of who a person will vote for by looking at when they “came of age” — or turned 18.
For example, if you turned 18 under President Dwight Eisenhower, you were about 18 percentage points more likely to have voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. If you turned 18 under President George W. Bush, you were much more likely to vote for President Barack Obama in 2012.
Take a look:
This is a result of some shifting winds in generations’ party identification with the advent of the "millennial" generation. It tends to skew much more Democratic than its predecessor, “Generation X,” did when it was comprised of 18- to 29-year-olds in 1994.
By about a 16-point split, the millennial generation says it identifies more with the Democratic Party. That’s a difference from Gen X, which in 1994 split slightly (5 points) toward the Republican Party. (Gen X now, which is comprised of 34- to 49-year-olds, today splits 11 points more toward the Democratic Party.)
But there are also some distinctions within generations. The millennial generation is more likely to skew Democrat. But if you were born in 1998, you’re actually, technically speaking, less Democratic than your peers who were born in 1982.
Members of the Silent Generation who were born in 1947 skew Democratic. But their counterparts born in 1944, meanwhile, lean a bit Republican.
“But the differences within generations are as notable as the differences among them,” Pew writes. “Older Baby Boomers have consistently had a more Democratic imprint than younger Boomers. Older Boomers were born in the late 1940s and early 1950s and came of voting age in the late 1960s and early 1970s, during Richard Nixon’s presidency. Younger Boomers were born later (in the mid-to-late 1950s and early 1960s) and largely came of age in the 1970s and early 1980s, during the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.”
Why does this matter? Pew has found that your political leanings during your coming-of-age years have a strong tendency to carry through most of your life.
“The political climate of early adulthood may continue to influence the political tilt of a generation throughout its life span,” Pew writes. “For example, members of the Greatest Generation, who came of age during the Great Depression and the Franklin Roosevelt administration, carried strong Democratic tendencies throughout their adulthood.”
Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.