Millennials will determine the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections. Those between 22 and 37 will determine the outcome of the election and the composition of the next Congress.
The Millennials are the largest component of the electorate; but they will determine the outcome of the election by not voting, data from Pew Research indicates. History teaches us that younger voters’ greatest impact comes when they stay away from the polls.
Millennials and Generation Xers (those aged 38 to 52) made up 53% of the 2014 electorate but cast 21 million fewer votes than those 53 and over, Pew calculated. Persons 53 and over cast 57 million of the 83.262 million votes cast in 2014. Those under 53 cast around 36 million votes in 2014 according to Pew.
This means that Baby Boomers (those aged 53 to 72) will be the largest group of voters. That should favor Republicans because older voters preferred President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) over Hillary Clinton (D-New York) by a margin of 53% to 45% in 2016.
A Very Different Election
A repeat of 2014 is not likely because the Pew data shows the electorate has changed dramatically in four years. Pew’s statistics indicate that pollsters are going to have a very hard time calling this year’s Midterm elections.
These numbers show just drastically the electorate has changed in just a few years:
- The number of Millennial, Generation X, and Generation Z (under 22) voters increased by 18 million between 2014 and 2018.
- The number of voters over 53 fell by 10 million between 2014 and 2018.
- This means the electorate changed by 28 million – in favor of Democrats, in just four years.
These numbers can have a dramatic effect because the margin of victory in recent elections has been small. Just 107,000 votes in three states determined the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election, The Washington Post estimated. There were six states in which Trump’s victory margin was less than 2%.
Recent congressional elections have been even closer. Conor Lamb (D) won a special House of Representatives election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District by just 627 votes in March. State Senator Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) was leading a U.S. House race in West Virginia’s 3rd District by just 2% in late June.
That means the deaths of a few thousand Baby Boomers; or a decision by a couple of thousand Millennials, to vote will have an outsize effect on the outcome. Such demographic changes will be amplified in midterms when voter turnouts are lower.
Only 42% of all voters; 22% of millennials, and 39% of Generation Xers cast ballots during the 2014 Midterms. That means the Millennials and Generation Xers who bother to vote will have an out-sized impact.
Voting Gets Easier and Harder
Pollsters are going to have a tough time because of dramatic changes to election laws across the country. Some states are making voting easier and expanding the electorate while others are suppressing votes and making voting harder.
Washington State and California (the most populous state) have enacted automatic voter registration, Election Day registration, and pre-registration for high school students, Mother Jones pointed out. Similar measures have been enacted in Oregon.
Automatic voter registration can be highly disruptive because it allows any citizen to simply walk in and vote on Election Day. Pre-registration and Election Day registration are variations on automatic voter registration.
Even more disruptive is Colorado’s practice of all mail in elections which achieved a voter turnout of 72.1% in 2016, The Denver Post reported. Colorado just further skewed electoral results by allowing unaffiliated voters to participate in primaries.
That increased turnout and helped leftist Democrat Jared Polis trounce his party’s establishment in a gubernatorial contest. Polis supports single-payer health care and free preschool for all children.
Further expansion of the electorate is likely because there are 206 bills that would expand access to the ballot under consideration 30 state legislatures. That situation is complicated by the 23 states that restricted voting between 2010 and 2016.
Expect a lot of Messy Election Outcomes on November 6
Obviously, not all of those people will vote; but enough new voters will participate to affect election outcomes and confound pollsters. A problem for both parties is that these younger voters do not have the established loyalties of their parents.
That means we can expect some interesting surprises on the morning of November 7, 2018. Most likely, neither Democrats nor Republicans will like the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections. A major frustration for both parties will be a large number of close elections followed by messy recounts.
Millennials will affect the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections whether they show up at the polls or not.
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