Who are the millennial voters?
Matto: Millennials are generally considered as those born after approximately 1980. Standing at about 77 million, the generation is on track to be the nation’s largest generation. It’s also one of the most ethnically diverse generations in American history – nearly 20 percent of millennials are immigrants themselves or children of immigrants. It’s a generation that is highly educated but also heavily burdened by student loan debt. Often referred to as “digital natives,” one the generation’s strengths is its proficiency in its use of technology and new media. It’s a generation that despite economic hardships is optimistic about its future and has a strong desire to fix public problems.
How significant of a voting bloc are they?
Matto: Millennials are a growing percentage of the eligible electorate. Currently, 21 percent of all eligible voters are between the ages of 18-29. In total, there are 49 million young adults eligible to vote (compared to 45 million voters who are 65 years old or more). In 2016, there will be a large number of new young voters – 16.5 million young adults turned 18 since the 2012 race.
Are they less engaged now than past elections?
Matto: According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) the recent primary contests witnessed very strong, even record-breaking, rates of turnout among young adults. The percentage of eligible 18-29 year olds who voted in 2016 was equal to or greater than rates in 2008 (which saw the third highest voter turnout rate among youth since 1972) and much of that increase was driven by Republican voters.
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