The generation that helped give us President Obama is also the most likely to believe vaccines cause autism.
This may come as a surprise to you, since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s comments about vaccines have become a jumping-off point to make it sound like opposition to vaccines is somewhere in the Republican platform, next to opposition to tax hikes and abortion.
It’s just the latest front in what some have called the Republican war on science. Science, for example, not only proves the reality of global warming but also the fact that the Democrats’ preferred tax and regulatory policies will fix it.
Republicans do not accept that settled science. They are also less likely to believe in evolution, don’t want taxpayer-funded embryonic stem-cell research and have elected a Senate that put Ted Cruz in charge of space travel (well, not really).
“Republicans,” The New York Times headlined a representative Frank Bruni column, “meet science.”
In this telling, Republicans are anti-science fanatics who are too busy persecuting modern-day Galileos and worshipping a God who created men to ride around on dinosaurs to notice that the planet is on fire. Of course they also hate vaccines.
But a January YouGov poll found that young people are actually more likely to hold anti-vaccine views than older people. Specifically, 43 percent of people under 30 believe that vaccinating children for the measles, mumps or whooping cough should be at the parents’ discretion and 21 percent of them think vaccines cause autism.
This is roughly the same age group that voted for Obama by 34 percentage points in 2008 and 23 points in 2012. In Obama’s first election, voters under 30 accounted for 7 million out of his 9 million vote margin of victory.
Despite pre-election concerns the millennials’ love affair with the Democrats was cooling, they mostly voted Democratic in 2014.
Pew Research Center found that millennials were the most liberal age group in its polling. They were more likely to identify with the Democratic Party, more trusting of government, more accepting of liberal social values in areas like gay rights, more supportive of immigration.
Millennials are also less likely to be married or belong to a church.
These polling results were said to spell the Republican Party’s doom and had Democrats singing Whitney Houston: I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.
Millennials cooled to Obama and the Democrats in last year’s midterm elections, but Democrats pushed the message Republicans don’t care about the young folks.
Only 3 percent of Americans over the age of 65, recently a “reliably Republican” demographic, believe there is a link between vaccines and autism.
This isn’t just a statistical blip, like blacks being more likely to believe in creationism despite voting 90 percent for Obama while most other Democratic groups are less likely to believe in creationism. The anti-vaccine movement began on the left, heavily promoted by figures like Robert Kennedy Jr.
Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” which is not a conservative program, spoofed the movement as “An Outbreak of Liberal Idiocy.” The New York Times, which is not a conservative publication, reported on the anti-vaccine craze in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, which are not conservative places. Whooping cough is spreading in Napa and Berkeley.
The journalist Alex Berezow crunched the numbers and found that the states with the highest exemption rates from vaccines mostly voted for Obama in the last presidential election. Oregon was the most anti-vaccine, the Republican states of the Deep South generally the most pro-vaccine.
It’s part and parcel of the liberal obsession with GMOs and only putting natural things into your body.
None of this is to deny the existence of anti-vaccine conservatives and libertarians who conflate legitimate questions about the scope of government mandates with the merits of vaccines themselves. And pandering to people who believe scientifically questionable things about vaccines is a thoroughly bipartisan phenomenon.
But the typical anti-vaxxer looks more like a hippie Chris Christie would yell at during a town hall meeting than the people who voted for Christie.
W. James Antle III is managing editor of The Daily Caller and author of the book Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? Follow him on Twitter.