Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao..."

This is probably a question for Andrew Gelman but this post by Jonathan Chait (previously mentioned by Joseph) raises some interesting points:

A Frum Forum writer notes an interesting trend: People who find their parents are watching Fox News and losing their minds. To wit:

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been keeping track of a trend among friends around my age (late thirties to mid-forties). Eight of us (so far) share something in common besides our conservatism: a deep frustration over how our parents have become impossible to take on the subject of politics. Without fail, it turns out that our folks have all been sitting at home watching Fox News Channel all day – especially Glenn Beck’s program.
Used to be I would call my mom and get updated on news from the neighborhood, her garden, the grandchildren, hometown gossip, and so forth. I’ve always been interested in politics, but never had the occasion to talk about them with her. She just doesn’t care.
Or didn’t. I don’t know when it happened, exactly, but she began peppering our conversation with red-hot remarks about President Obama. I would try to engage her, but unless I shared her particular judgment, and her outrage, she apparently thought that I was a dupe or a RINO. Finally I asked my father privately why Mom, who as far as I know never before had a political thought, was so worked up about Obama all the time.
“She’s been like that ever since she started watching Glenn Beck,” Dad said.
A few months later, she roped him into watching Beck, which had the same effect. Even though we’re all conservatives, I found myself having to steer our phone conversations away from politics and current events. It wasn’t that I disagreed with their opinions – though I often did – but rather that I found the vehemence with which they expressed those opinions to be so off-putting.

To add some heft to this anecdotal take, Fox News has the oldest audience of any news network -- the average Fox News viewer is 65 years old!

Assuming something even vaguely like a normal distribution, this means that a significant number of Fox viewers (and presumably Tea Partiers) were high school and college students in the Sixties and early Seventies. In other words, it appears that the generation that gave us the most annoying right-wing movement in recent memory also gave us the most annoying left-wing movement.

My question for Dr. Gelman is: how much overlap was there? What portion of the students who went around quoting the Little Red Book are now seniors quoting Glenn Beck?

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if the passing of the baby boom will shift the political orientation of the United States?