I’ve been casually following the discussion of whether Republicans are using the Internet as effectively as their rivals, and I think Patrick Ruffini has must-read thoughts on that subject. This section in particular stood out:
In the Blogads survey, there’s support for another theory often advanced to explain the difference between the online right and left. That Republicans have kids. Here’s a breakdown of household size; over 100% indicates a greater liberal propensity in that group.
1 143.4% 2 109.5% 3 102.2% 4 82.6% 5 49.7% 6 33.1% 7 28.4% 8+ 34.6%
These are fairly staggering numbers. Liberals are fully 40% more likely to live by themselves. Conservatives are twice as likely to have 3 kids, and 3 times as likely to have 4 kids or more.
Intuitively, I think that has a lot more to do with levels of activism than age. After all, retired people should have a lot of time on their hands and are outsized participants in other aspects of the political process. But someone with kids (and presumably a steady job to support those kids) is a lot less likely to have time to refresh Daily Kos.
Anecdotally, that rings generally true. (Yes, there are exceptions, and I know plenty of them.) I guess a relevant question is whether a political movement needs its members to be able to devote a large amount of time and energy to advancing its cause. Because a lot of natural conservatives, no matter how strongly they may hold their positions, will not be able to match the time commitments of someone who lives alone.
Also – how many university-affiliated left-of-center types can engage in political activism as part of their professional life? How many university students, not having full-time jobs or children, can choose political activism as a major time commitment?