It's Stage Not Age That Matters
The debate about the wisdom of 26 year-olds is somewhat off base, in this sense: Politically, it's not age that matters so much as stage of life. Whether someone is 26 or 36 they are far more likely to support Democrats if they remain single. In 2012, singles voted for Obama by 62-35 while married folks voted for Romney 56-42.
The problem for the GOP is that more and more people are deciding never to marry or at least to delay marriage several decades. And as single-hood becomes the norm there are clear political consequences. Jonathan Last outlined some of these in an excellent piece for the Weekly Standard in December:
Far more significant than the gender gap is the marriage gap. And what
was made clear in the 2012 election was that the cohorts of unmarried
women and men are now at historic highs?—?and are still increasing. This
marriage gap?—?and its implications for our political, economic, and
cultural future?—?is only dimly understood.
Some specifics: Among people between the ages of 20 and 34 "67 percent of men and 57 percent of women in that group have never been married." We may or may not have much to learn from 26 year olds (I'm not convinced on that front, though Jedediah may be the exception) but we certainly have much to lose by ignoring the will of the nation's growing and aging population of singles. Like it or not, their concerns will increasingly dictate the terms of the national conversation.