Millennials Prefer Sanders to Clinton
The latest Rock The Vote/USA Today poll outlines the political leanings of the millennial generation, 18- to 35-year-olds. If the Democratic primary were held today, Sanders has an 11-point lead over Clinton, with young voters supporting Sanders at 46 percent and Clinton at 35 percent.
A Pew Research Survey that came out early last year outlined the tipping point for the millennial generation, which eclipsed baby boomers in the number of voters. This will be the first presidential election since millennials became a political force to be reckoned with. OurTime.org, a youth empowerment organization (not to be confused with OurTime.com, the dating service), has worked since 2011 to register over 350,000 young voters during the last election using its online voter registration tool. "We've known from the beginning that this generation would be a powerful voting block," Johanna Berkson, OurTime's board chair told AlterNet. "That's why we've worked to consistently engage them on the issues critical to them. And once they realize how much progress can be made when they vote for candidates who fight for these issues, they will begin to vote more consistently."
While many millennials prefer to consider themselves more independent and reject a two-party ideology, their political leanings are liberal. From early on in their political process, many of them rejected religious and right-wing ideologies and supported same-sex marriage. Some observers think this is one of the main reasons young people are leading the charge against any religious affiliation.
Millennials are also more diverse than any generation, and racist rhetoric is not consistent with their values. Fifty percent of millennials are affiliated with the Democratic Party or lean Democratic while only 34 percent consider themselves Republican. Those millennials who do lean GOP support Donald Trump by 26 percent and Ben Carson by 11 percent, if the Republican primary were held today.
Even those who identify with Republicans still support progressive policies. Eight in 10 millennials want America to transition to clean energy by 2030 and 82 percent want Congress to pass a law that requires background checks for all gun purchases. This is a major problem for the GOP, which has identified itself as the climate denier party and the party of the NRA.
"We've worked hard to encourage elected officials to make young people part of the discussion," Berkson said. "If they want to win over the millennial generation, they have to do the proper outreach during their campaigns and bring them in on policy once in office."
Whether young people will come out in the caucuses and primaries is up to the campaigns. In 2008, candidate Barack Obama faced a tough challenge from likely caucus-goers and as a result, brought unlikely caucus-goers, like young people, to participate in the process. It remains to be seen if that enthusasiam among young voters can be reignited in Iowa once more.