Frank Rizzo, an iconic figure in Philadelphia law enforcement, was quoted as saying that a liberal was a conservative that hadn’t been mugged yet. I myself have always wondered how our political views change over time. The issue of government regulation and intervention was an oft-debated theme during the 2012 presidential election; however, when it comes to who should be responsible for setting fuel efficiency standards, there is little debate about how most Americans feel. Almost two-thirds of all respondents believe that the government should be responsible for setting the standards, compared to one-third who think it should be left to the marketplace.
Not only do most Americans favor government regulation when it comes to fuel efficiency standards, but about the same amount (nearly two-thirds) go a step further and say that the government should be involved in subsidizing private companies that produce renewable forms of energy. While all age groups support the notion of government involvement, younger Americans are the strongest proponents. Only adults 65+ years of age are split on the matter.
The extent government should become involved in private enterprise usually breaks down along political lines. Our own data show that 76% of Democrats support government setting fuel standards compared to 44% of Republicans. Similarly, we show that 78% of Democrats favor supporting subsidies to producers of alternate sources of energy compared to 43% of Republicans. My question is this: does the fact that so many young people support what is considered by many to be democratic positions signal a seminal change in the composition of the electorate in the coming years or do people’s leanings shift to the right as they get older? What do you believe?