Millennials are the generation of Americans who are 22 to 37 years old in 2018.
According to population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. Next year, Millennials will surpass Baby Boomers as America’s largest living adult generation, their numbers swelling to 73 million as Boomers decline to 72 million.
Reuters has good news for us: Enthusiasm for the Democratic Party is waning among Millennials as we approach the crucial midterm congressional elections. Democrats have come to count on Millennials as a core constituency – and will need them to achieve a net gain of 23 seats to capture control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November.
An online Reuters/Ipsos national survey of more than 16,000 registered voters ages 18 to 34 shows Millennials’ support for Democrats over Republicans for Congress slipped by 9% over the past two years, to 46%. And they increasingly say the Republican Party is a better steward of the economy, despite their dislike for President Trump (2 out of 3 Millennials in the survey said they dislike him).
Millennials are almost evenly split this year over the question of which party has a better plan for the economy, with 34% picking the Democrats and 32% choosing Republicans. That’s a shift from two years ago, when they said Democrats had the better plan by a 12% margin.
Columbia University political science professor Donald Green explains young voters represent an opportunity and a risk for both parties because “They’re not as wedded to one party. They’re easier to convince than, say, your 50- or 60-year-olds who don’t really change their minds very often.”
The shift away from Democrats was more pronounced among white Millennials – who accounted for two-thirds of all votes cast in that age group in 2016:
- Two years ago, young white people favored Democrats over Republicans for Congress by a margin of 47% vs. 33%; that gap vanished by this year, with 39% supporting each party.
- The shift was especially dramatic among young white men, who two years ago favored Democrats but now say they favor Republicans over Democrats by a margin of 46% vs. 37%.
Reuters gave three examples of Millennials who have changed their minds because of evidence, giving us hope that there are Americans who still listen to reason:
- Terry Hood, 34, an African-American who works at a Dollar General store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and took this year’s poll, said he voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, but he will consider a Republican for Congress because he believes the party is making it easier to find jobs and he applauds the recent Republican-led tax cut: “It sounds strange to me to say this about the Republicans, but they’re helping with even the small things. They’re taking less taxes out of my paycheck. I notice that.”
- Ashley Matthias, 31, a tattoo artist in Manchester, New Hampshire, said she has not decided how she will vote but will support anyone who will make her health insurance more affordable, and that it is cheaper to pay for her doctor’s visits out-of-pocket than to buy insurance through the government-run Obamacare exchange.
- Ashley Reed, a white single mother of three in Concord, New Hampshire, said a teenage fascination with Democrat Barack Obama led her to support his presidency in 2008. But her politics evolved with her personal life. Now 28, Reed opposes abortion; is more supportive of gun rights; and has lost faith in social welfare programs that she now believes were misused. Reed plans to vote for a Republican for Congress this year: “As I got older, I felt that I could be my own voice.”
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English throughout the United States. It gathered about 65,000 responses in all during the first three months of 2018 and 2016, including 16,000 registered voters between the ages of 18 and 34 and nearly 11,000 registered white Millennial voters. The poll has a ± interval of only 1%, meaning that results may vary by about 1% in either direction.