Only 22 percent of the older generation believes the growing population of immigrants is a ”change for the better.” Twenty-three percent of boomers share the same cautious view of the immigration wave.
Silents prefer President Ronald Reagan over Bill Clinton by 37 percent to 35 percent. The boomers prefer Reagan by 45 percent to 42 percent.
Back in 1989, 49 percent of bombers preferred a bigger government. In 2011, 54 percent of boomers wants a smaller government, only four points less than the 49 percent of silents who want a smaller government.
The cause of this shift is unclear, said Doherty. It may be related to the voters’ situation of life, where unmarried voters go for Democrats, while parents vote for the GOP, he said. One clue, he said, lies in the boomers’ attitudes toward marijuana.
“By the late 70s, 49 percent were in favor of legalizing marijuana, but that falls all the way down to 18 percent by 1990,” when many boomers were raising teenagers, he said. Now that the teenagers have left the home, the percentage “has come back to 41 percent,” he said.
Only 31 percent of silents support legalization. Forty-five percent of millennials now support legal marijuana use, while 50 percent oppose.
On guns, 50 percent of boomers and 49 percent of silents think gun rights are more important than gun control. Sixty percent of boomers and 59 percent of silents support the death penalty, and 39 percent of boomers think abortion should be illegal, only a few points lower than 43 percent of silents.
The boomer numbers hide a small split between the older boomers and the younger boomers, who turned 18 while Nixon was in office from 1969 to 1974. Those younger boomers tend to be more Democratic.
Nixon is still something of a hate-figure among liberals and progressives, and among younger boomers, even though he pushed liberal domestic policies and created many new federal programs, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency.
That segment of boomers helps ensure that “boomers have a more positive view of the Democratic Party,” than held by the silents, said Doherty.
“But when it comes to voting, they’re voting more Republican” than ever before, he said.