The Millennial generation is the largest generation by population in the United States. Millennials grew up wanted, loved and catered to. Their self-esteem was paramount and they have high expectations, great optimism about the future, and may wield powerful political influence when they vote and run for office.
A good research paper topic for your sociology class may be to write about the political influence of the Millennial generation.
Who are the Millennials?
The children of Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, the Millennial generation was born between 1982 and 2003, and at around 80 million strong they are the largest generation by population. Millennials are the most ethnically diverse generation, 40 percent of whom are of black, Hispanic, Asian or mixed background. Millennials are idealistic about their future and are interested in participating in society, the economy and politics.
Millennials, often called entitled, were born in a time after widespread use of contraception and declining abortion rates, meaning those Millennials who were born were wanted and loved. Parents educated themselves on child-rearing techniques, laws were made to protect children and “self-esteem” was the primary goal, evidenced by the often denigrated “trophy just for showing up.”
“Pew Research Center surveys indicate that Millennials are more upbeat today than Gen-Xers … more frequently believing that they live in an exciting time, have greater sexual freedom, and have a greater chance of buying a house and bringing about social change,” noted Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais in the book Millennial Makeover, Myspace, YouTube, and the Future of American Politics, 2008.
Millennials will influence politics
Although Millennials have dubiously been called (by older generations) entitled, narcissistic, bad employees, trophy kids, and just plain dumb, David D. Burstein, author of Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation Is Shaping Our World and a Millennial himself, argues that they are actually pragmatic and adaptable in the incredibly fast changing digital and political world of the twenty-first century. Millennials have civic idealism, think more globally and are profoundly impacting politics, business, media and activism.
In the 2008 presidential election, nearly half of the largest generation in American history was eligible to vote, making Millennial attitudes and beliefs key to winning elections. In the 2014 midterm elections and 2016 presidential election, Millennials will play a significant role.
As today’s politicians create division over subjects such as gay marriage, Millennials generally don’t believe it should even be debated, advocating for marriage equality, according to Burstein. Recognizing Millennials’ attitudes and political influence, politicians are changing their stance on gay marriage.
Burstein observed: “Millennials are helping push older politicians to get out of the ‘culture war’ business, it’s happening on gay marriage and it’s beginning to happen on other issues like abortion and immigration as well. I’d of course be remiss if I didn’t mention the essential role that young people played in the 2008 election as a key reason Barack Obama was elected. However, the greatest contribution yet to come is how we govern and act as politicians, something we’ll know more about in the next several election cycles as more Millennials run for office.”
How will Millennials influence politics?
“Not only do half of all Millennials choose not to identify with either political party, just 31% say there is a great deal of difference between the Republican and Democratic parties,” wrote the Pew Research in “Millennials in Adulthood” posted March 7, 2014. “Even so, this generation stood out in the past two presidential elections as strikingly Democratic.
According to national exit polls, the young-old partisan voting gaps in 2008 and 2012 were among the largest in the modern era, with Millennials far more supportive than older generations of Barack Obama… Millennials today are still the only generation in which liberals are not significantly outnumbered by conservatives.”
On the other hand, the Washington Post article “The Millennials have taken over — but don’t expect politics to change just yet” by Philip Bump cautions that while Millennials leaned mostly Democratic in 2008, that loyalty is not assured in the future and that Millennials generally reject party labels. Moreover, the Millennial generation isn’t going to be a second boom, and the Millennials that lead the pack today are mixed in at about the same rate as the generations that follow. “Owning the Millennial vote, in other words, wouldn’t mean a whole lot in terms of electoral dominance over the long term,” said Bump.
How do you think Millennials will affect the midterm elections this November?