For voters younger than he, Obama is the closest they’ve ever had to a political leader of their own generation….And for the next-older cohort, at least the self-conscious ones who tend to dominate the cultural definition of any generation, Obama flatters their driving desire to imagine themselves forever young. He’s technically a baby-boomer, but still comes across as a boy wonder, which allows people in their fifties to feel reassured that they’re not yet decrepit. Plus if all the kids love him and we also love him, that means we’re still kinda sorta youthful ourselves, right? It’s related to the generation-gaplessness that modern parents enjoy feeling when they and their children watch Stephen Colbert together, and listen to the same music (Feist!) on their identical iPods. ~Kurt Andersen
James should have a field day with this paragraph alone, but before he pounces I would make a few points. First, there has always been an element of Boomer wish-fulfillment in Obama’s candidacy, since liberals of that generation may still remember the 1960s as the era when their cause was prematurely snuffed out and they see Obama as the revival of something similar to what they saw in the Kennedys and so on. Andersen has described another important part of Obama boosterism, which has been confirmed in the past by anecdotes of superdelegates being swayed by their children’s enthusiasm for the candidate, and this is an incessant need for Boomers to retain the appearance of being hip and an equally powerful drive among the “grups” (or “gruppies”) to avoid acknowledging as much as possible that they are, in fact, now in their thirties and even forties. The “Obama Generation” spans generations, since successive generations are engaged in ongoing denial that they are actually ageing, but it relies heavily on the “grups” and the youngest voters.
Notably, when Obama loses large numbers of the thirtysomething set, this coincides with a significant loss of overall support, as polling from Nevada has shown. Meanwhile, in the states where Obama is less popular overall the youngest cohorts are not necessarily more supportive than their elders, but may be less so, at which point some of his greatest reserves are to be found among the Boomers. That doesn’t mean that most Boomers back him, but that their levels of support are more consistent from state to state than among other generations and they are more constant over time. Obamaism may be a fad for the young, but for a certain kind of Boomer it is a long-deferred dream come true.