Are Parents the Most ‘Destabilizing’ and Controversial Group in America?

Parents, particularly of young children, have had a spotlight on them ever since the pandemic’s severe lockdowns and restrictions upended education, social life, and the careers of millions of families for years.

From states like California under Gov. Newsom’s seemingly endless series of lockdowns to states like Florida where Gov. DeSantis pushed for a curriculum-overhaul, parents have become a political force to be reckoned with.  

Mothers and fathers of young children are finding their voices against draconian lockdowns, mask mandates, and school closures as well as taking vocal stands against left-wing educational agendas, the inappropriate sexualization of children, and unjust and unlawful college admissions practices.   

Parents and their troubling drift toward the right is only starting to catch the attention of the mainstream news and beltway circle but it will certainly accelerate. Last August, the New York Times did an expose into the “destabilizing” world of anti-mask and anti-vaccine parents at rallies in California.  

Covering a protest in Orinda, CA, last fall, Sheera Frenkel wrote, “Ms. Longnecker and her fellow objectors are part of a potentially destabilizing new movement: parents who joined the anti-vaccine and anti-mask cause during the pandemic, narrowing their political beliefs to a single-minded obsession over those issues.” 

Frenkel noted that in interviews, 27 parents who identified as anti-mask and anti-vaccine described the path that led them to their current political views. “They said they had experienced alarm about their children during pandemic quarantines. They pushed to reopen schools and craved normalcy. They became angry, blaming lawmakers for the disruption to their children’s lives”, Frenkel wrote.

New research on parent’s views since the covid-19 pandemic reveal the pandemic – and more importantly the responses of politicians and governments to the pandemic – have upended political allegiances and largely eroded support for Democrats and far-left policies.

YouGov researchers collected data from 1,000 voters to see how the pandemic affected their political views, and the results reveal parents were one of the hardest-hit groups in the United States. Lockdowns, mask mandates and remote learning eroded support for Biden and left-wing policies even among those who voted for him in 2020.

YouGov’s research shows that parents of school-age children supported Trump by a five-percentage-point margin, 34% to 29%, while voters without children or with grown children collectively supported Biden by a six-percentage point margin, 37% to 31% margin. This makes parents of school-age children a group of particular interest for both parties heading into the next presidential election.        

The research also shows that parents of school-age children are less likely to support Democrat-favored responses to future pandemics, like mask and vaccine mandates, bans on group events, and compelled remote-schooling, than those without school-aged children.

YouGov notes that over half of Americans would favor these restrictions and mandates, but parents of school-age children are between 4 and 11 percentage points less likely to support these actions than those without children.

For example, while 50% of U.S. adults without young children would support requiring vaccination, far fewer – 39% – of parents with school-age children would.

This makes parents with school-age children one of the most “controversial” groups in the country. 

However, it isn’t just conservative parents who are deeply concerned about government overreach and the way the covid-19 pandemic was handled. 

YouGov’s data reveals that even among Biden voters, parents of young children are less likely to support pandemic restrictions.

For example, Biden voters with young children are 14-percentage points less likely to support both face-mask mandates and remote schooling than Biden voters without young children, and parents are 15-percentage points less likely to support vaccine mandates than non-parents.

In a post-Covid-era where government mandates have divided Americans into those favored for compliance and those treated as second-class citizens, taking any kind of stand against lockdowns and mandates as a Biden voter is evidence of something stronger than politics at play.    

Parents have a strong desire to create and maintain safety for themselves and their families that appears to transcend archaic political boundaries, and this desire is creating a growing chasm between themselves and the dominant political agenda.     

A comprehensive 2022 study from Tulane University of 2,610 people across 10 counties shows a strong link between parents and holding conservative values on a wide range of matters including abortion, immigration, and gender issues.

Tulane Univrsity academics also incorporated archived data from an additional 400,000 individuals spanning 88 countries to come to their conclusions. The researchers revealed that controlling for other variables, parents exhibited significantly stronger conservative views than non-parents across a range of issues.

“Becoming a parent may have psychological effects that you don’t expect,” said senior study author Damian Murray, associate professor of psychology at Tulane University School of Science and Engineering. “We commonly talk about how parents are going to shape their children’s attitudes, but we also need to acknowledge how simply having children shapes their parents’ attitudes.” 

According to the authors, this parenthood factor accounts for most, if not all, of the claim that individuals grow more conservative as they age. It is in fact parenthood that spurs conservative views, not age alone, according to the researchers.    

We also know that parents did indeed shift their allegiances toward conservatives between 2018 and 2022. Exit polls show that fathers supported Republicans by four percentage points more in 2022 than in 2018 while mothers shifted a substantial eight points toward Republicans.

​Data comparing Trump’s share of the vote between 2016 and 2020 shows a shift among millennials in the age range to have grade schoolers of five percentage points. This is notable considering slightly older Gen X voters supported Biden at a higher rate in 2020 than they did Clinton in 2016.   

Being a parent has never been more politicized, and a growing body of research shows not only that parents are more likely to support conservatives and oppose government overreach than others, but that parenthood significantly impacts political preferences in favor of conservative values.

Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.  Original here. Reproduced with permission.

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Self-Reliance Central publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of SRC. Reproduced with permission.