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Democrats an Endangered Species?

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Arthur Brooks writes about the most intractable problem facing today’s liberals: too many of them are choosing not to reproduce:

Simply put, liberals have a big baby problem: They’re not having enough of them, they haven’t for a long time, and their pool of potential new voters is suffering as a result. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, if you picked 100 unrelated politically liberal adults at random, you would find that they had, between them, 147 children. If you picked 100 conservatives, you would find 208 kids. That’s a “fertility gap” of 41%. Given that about 80% of people with an identifiable party preference grow up to vote the same way as their parents, this gap translates into lots more little Republicans than little Democrats to vote in future elections.

Alarmingly for the Democrats, the gap is widening at a bit more than half a percentage point per year, meaning that today’s problem is nothing compared to what the future will most likely hold. Consider future presidential elections in a swing state (like Ohio), and assume that the current patterns in fertility continue. A state that was split 50-50 between left and right in 2004 will tilt right by 2012, 54% to 46%. By 2020, it will be certifiably right-wing, 59% to 41%. A state that is currently 55-45 in favor of liberals (like California) will be 54-46 in favor of conservatives by 2020–and all for no other reason than babies.

The fertility gap doesn’t budge when we correct for factors like age, income, education, sex, race–or even religion. Indeed, if a conservative and a liberal are identical in all these ways, the liberal will still be 19 percentage points more likely to be childless than the conservative.

This may seem like a mystery, but trial lawyers make their living by picking juries, and any trial lawyer will tell you (as do public opinion surveys) that conservatives are happier and more optimistic than liberals. Happier and more optimistic people have more children. It is, really, a tough problem for the left to solve; it explains why liberals want to make voters out of millions of illegal aliens.

UPDATE: Chris Muir is on top of the issue; click to enlarge:

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