Millennials are actively engaged in the 2016 Presidential primaries on both sides of the aisle, driven by issues that are important to them. Those who are Democrats are supporting Bernie Sanders in significant numbers and polls show that high numbers of young adult Republicans are in favor of Donald Trump. What will be the significance of these preferences in the final election figures? It’s too early to tell – but Millennials eligible to vote will make up 30% of the electorate this year, having an impact potentially equal to that of the Baby Boomers.
One cannot paint with a broad brush in characterizing a generation of over 80 million – especially since these young adults have often shown conflicting views on many political issues. But, with many carrying large student loan debt and experiencing high levels of underemployment, financial concerns are in the forefront for most of them. And with record numbers living back home as Boomerang Kids, concerns about achieving the traditional markers of adulthood are likely to affect their ballot choices. Yet Millennials as a group tend to view their future with optimism and enthusiasm, often acting altruistically and notably volunteering to help in many causes.
Before the elections ramped into gear, one-half of young adults indicated that they were Independents, not identifying with any party. But as the season unfolds, more and more of them are coming to terms with their inner contradictions and taking sides. Traditionally, young voters are less likely to come out to the polls but, certainly, this is no typical election year. So let’s keep our eyes on the Millennials as we try to make sense of their favorites – and our own – in this unusual primary season.