New Generations Institute Poll Resolves Controversy Over Kamala’s Generation?

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Heated debate has raged online between Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Jones

A poll released today aims to resolve the passionate controversy over Vice President-Elect Harris’ generational identity. Harris was born in 1964—a birth year in a fiercely-debated generational gray zone. The Generations Institute –which studies all the living U.S. generations – asked 1200 respondents born in 1964 to identify which generation they feel a part of. The clear majority indicated they feel part of the “lost” generation (aka Generation Jones) in-between the Boomers and Xers.

The debate has been strikingly robust. Publications ranging from Politico to Rolling Stone to Forbes have run long pieces looking at Harris’ generational identity. The Washington Post alone has run three separate pieces on this generational controversy. A flood of reader comments has inundated these publications as well as other online forums. Jim Davis, an internet forums expert, notes: “This debate about Kamala’s generational identity is one of the most surprisingly intense and acrimonius online controversies I’ve ever seen.”

Harris’ 1964 birth year is generationally ambiguous. The traditionally-defined birth years of the Baby Boom Generation are 1946 – 1964. While the Generation X birth years have been commonly 1965-1980, some believe it starts earlier. Meanwhile, many generational scholars increasingly argue there is a distinct generation (aka Generation Jones, born 1954-1965) in-between Boomers and X’ers.

The poll, which was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1200 Americans on December 10-18, 2020, asked: “Do you consider yourself to be a member of the Baby Boom Generation, Generation X, or a generation in-between (commonly called Generation Jones)?” The results showed Americans born in 1964 overwhelmingly feel in-between Boomers and Xers: 61% chose Generation Jones, while 21% chose Generation X, and 18% selected the Boomer Generation.

Institute Director David Williams: “We’ve been quite struck by the ferocity of this debate; many people obviously have very strong feelings about this. The fact that such a large majority of respondents feel in-between Boom and X is persuasive, and is consistent with the emerging consensus among experts about the existence of Generation Jones. Part of the relevance of the debate centers on how Harris’ generational identity will impact the style and substance of her governing.”

Below is a small sampling of some of the articles which have helped fuel the controversy:

In a Forbes piece titled: “Kamala Harris: Boomer, Gen X Or Generation Jones?”, Richard Eisenberg wrote: “As you can see, it’s possible to make a case that Kamala Harris could be described as either a boomer, a Gen Xer or a Generation Joneser.”

Jill Filipovic’s Medium essay titled “The Great Gen X vs. Boomer Debate Comes for Kamala” concludes: “Harris, I’m sorry to say, is a baby boomer.”

Teresa Wiltz’s piece in Politico titled: “How Generation Jones shaped Kamala Harris” observes: “All this shapes Harris the politician, for good and for not-so-good. As a Generation Joneser, she’s the Jan Brady of American politics, the perpetual middle child, wondering why we can’t all get along.”

Tim Dickinson’s essay in Rolling Stone, “Kamala Harris, Gen X’s Moment, and the Fall of House Boomer” suggests that: “Harris embodied a classic Gen X straddle”

Bonnie Greer’s piece “Kamala Harris is Pure GenJones” in The New European observes: “The exchange in that debate revealed a great deal about the two of them, and also underlined something about Harris: she is 100% ‘Generation Jones’.”

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David Williams
The Generations Institute
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