And there were always hints of a more right-wing inclination culturally even if they may have been camouflaged by the less politically charged atmosphere at the time. The first major political depiction of this cohort was on the sitcom Family Ties, where Reagan-loving teenager Alex P. Keaton clashed with his liberal boomer parents. As Republican pollster Patrick Ruffini put it to Politico, “the MTV generation has always been a little bit more conservative.”
Now, though, there is no confusion: Generation X is safely Republican. One model from 2014 measuring only white voters through the 2012 election shows those born in the mid-to-late 1960s being the most Republican-leaning of all, more so than the older Boomers and Silent generation. In a poll released in late April by Marist/NPR that separated voters by generation, Generation X had the highest level of disapproval for Biden and were the generation most likely to say they would vote for a Republican candidate in the midterms if they were held that day.
While voters have historically tended to be more conservative as they age, that has accelerated with Generation X. In fact, Tom Bonier, the CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic data firm, told me that Generation X has now become the most conservative generation, surpassing the Boomers in their rightward tilt.
Some of this has to do with broader historical forces that were out of anyone’s control. The political atmosphere in which voters first cast ballots and became politically aware leaves a lasting impact through their lives. As Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson told me, “If you first became aware of politics during Reagan/[George H.W.] Bush/Clinton era, you’re more likely to lean a bit more to the right.” This was a time when even Bill Clinton was proclaiming “the era of big government is over.”