Graduation Year

2015

Date of Submission

4-2015

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Government

Reader 1

Andrew Busch

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© 2015 Samuel F. Pitcavage

Abstract

Richard Nixon undoubtedly casts a long shadow on the American political conscience. Nowhere is this clearer than in the political behavior of American voters born 1950-1954. These baby-boomers were the youngest voters eligible to vote in 1972, and experienced the greatest scandal in postwar American politics at an important age. The question this thesis asks is: what happens when the most populous cohort in American history experiences one of the most contentious periods in postwar politics during the most important years of psychological development? This study finds three significant effects. First, this cohort shows lower levels of civic engagement throughout life. Second, this cohort is more likely to vote Democrat. Third, this cohort is more ideologically polarized. Not only are these trends clear, they are also distinct from adjacent cohorts.

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