A few days ago I wrote a post about generational differences in US presidential voting patterns. In both elections Obama got a big bump from the youngest voters, but it hasn’t always been the case that the youth vote has gone to the Democratic candidate. Recently I had occasion to look at US public opinion survey results about the Vietnam War. The antiwar sentiment was largely a youth movement, right? Wrong. As shown in the data on this website, respondents aged 20-29 were the strongest supporters of the war, whereas those aged 50 and above were most consistently against the war.
March 1968 survey results are representative of the trend. Two months after the Tet offensive supposedly dealt a death blow to whatever residual enthusiasm remained for the Vietnam adventure among the American populace, about 55% of the 20-somethings supported the war. In contrast, only about 30% of survey respondents aged 50 and up expressed support.
Public enthusiasm for the Vietnam War declined continually from beginning to end. And from beginning to end the generation gap persisted as well, with the strongest popular support for the war coming from the youngest adult Americans.