Millennial Voters Refuse To Be Left Out of this Election
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Additionally, as seen above, Millennials are especially progressive on social issues and are particularly engaged and vocal on these issues. A recent study of first-year college students by the University of California, Los Angeles, found that:
- 71.3 percent said they supported gay and lesbian couples’ right to get married. That’s a stark contrast with a poll from last fall of the general public that only showed 46 percent support for marriage equality.
- 57 percent of students do not believe undocumented immigrants should be denied access to public education. Compared to a 2010 Gallup poll that showed support for the DREAM Act among voters older than age 34 as just more than half of those polled and still firmly divided along partisan lines, this result show increasing recognition and support for undocumented peers.
- 60.7 percent of freshmen think abortion should be kept legal. This is an even clearer example of the difference between young people and general public, which has grown less supportive of a woman’s right to choose in recent years.
More than just highlighting the electoral potential of this demographic, the 2008 election showed how engaged young people are with their communities on issues that impact them. Nearly one in five Millennials are highly engaged in “service, community-change, and political activities,” according to a study by The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. The research, which looks at Millennials’ political and civic participation in 2008 and 2010, also found that 17.9 percent of Millennials were actively focused on the election and candidates, and were discussing politics frequently and voting on Election Day.
While Millennials are taking active roles in organizing and advocacy on a number of issues, there remains much untapped potential among these young Americans. But the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement study found that when you directly engage young people and ask them to participate, they do. In each new election cycle, more politicians are recognizing and acting on this fact. With 46 million young people ages 18 to 29 years old eligible to vote (compared to the 39 million seniors who are eligible to vote), it comes as no surprise that more politicians are pivoting toward this undermobilized demographic.
Aside from sheer volume—18- to 29-year-olds now make up 24 percent of the voting eligible population—much of the past four decades of presidential cycles has shown a tepid rise in youth turnout. From 1972 to 2000, the youth turnout rate declined by 16 percentage points, but the 2004 election marked the beginning of a comeback for youth participation, with turnout soaring by 11 percentage points. The trajectory has been ticking upward ever since.
- 40 percent of young people ages 18 to 29 turned out in 2000, compared to 65 percent of those 30 and older.
- 49 percent of young people, compared to 68 percent of those 30 and older, turned out in 2004.
- 51 percent of young people turned out in 2008, marking the third-highest youth turnout rate since the voting age was lowered to 18.
While youth turnout has nudged up, turnout among older voters has relatively flat lined.
Each of the past three presidential election cycles, more young people are casting votes, with 15 million casting their ballots in the 2000 general election and 20 million in the 2004 presidential election, a surge of more than 5 million. But it was the 2008 presidential election that really marked the turning point in youth participation: Out of 41 million eligible voters, 22.4 million showed up at the polls. While this was an increase of 2 million votes cast compared to 2004 and more than 6.5 million from 2000, the real impact was even larger, with so many—some too young to vote—playing an active role in get-out-the-vote efforts across the country. Additionally, each election cycle, Millennials have also made up more of the electorate: Approximately 14 percent of votes cast 2000 were by young people, and that number continued to climb in 2004 (16 percent) and 2008 (17 percent).