While the nation prepares for the midterm elections this November, there is a group that could sway the deciding factor -- Millennials. According to a recent poll by Harvard, 37 percent of Millennials identify as Democrat, while 25 percent say they are Republican. However, the poll doesn’t clearly examine the largest segment of this voting demographic -- namely, the 38 percent who are not affiliated with either major party.
These numbers reveal a disconnect between the government and young voters, a further example that there is not an equal amount of representation in the U.S. and many don’t believe the nation is moving in the right direction.
What Millennial leaders find disheartening is that only 19 percent of voters in Generation Y consider themselves politically engaged, according to the Harvard poll. Nick Troiano, a member of Generation Y and an independent candidate running in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District, believes it is a reflection of the current political system and environment.
"Young Americans have come of age in a time pervaded with political dysfunction and gridlock, resulting in poor job performance," he said in an interview for IVN. "The survey also found that 61 percent disapprove of the job performance of the Democrats in Congress and 74 percent disapprove of the job performance of the Republicans in Congress. Young Americans are frustrated with both parties, which is why more and more are identifying as independents and is one of the reasons I am running for Congress as an independent candidate.”According to
Pew Research, even though Millennials stand out for voting heavily Democratic on many political and social issues, 50 percent still identify as independent. In order to change the way politics works and make voters less frustrated, there needs to be a change of attitude in voting and more advocacy for people who can represent all ends of the political spectrum.
“First and foremost, this survey confirms the skepticism of our political system on the part of Millennials," said Jeff Frazee, executive director of Young Americans for Liberty. "While only 21 percent of respondents considered our nation to be headed in the right direction, 81 percent did not consider themselves to be ‘politically engaged’ or ‘politically active.’ This suggests that while many respondents believe our country has many problems, they do not see much hope of solutions via the political process as it currently stands.”
According to the poll, a majority of Millennials disapprove of the way President Obama is handling national issues, such as the economy, health care, and the federal budget deficit. Sixty-six percent of respondents said they disapprove of the way Obama is handling the federal budget deficit.
While 56 percent voted for Obama in 2012, 45 percent think the nation as a whole is headed down the wrong track. These reactions are what is going to steer the direction for the next election. So, the question that needs to be asked is, what will it take to tap into an age group that will make up 36 percent of the voting population by 2020?
It may be a matter of getting Millennials, and specifically ones who claim to be affiliated as independent, to run for office and change the way politics is done.“It’s going to be tough to engage Millennials in the political discussion and have them be eager to go out and vote for someone who says they will change Washington. That ship has clearly sailed," said Britt Hysen, editor of
Millennial Magazine. "But I think in order to get Millennials more excited and connected to government, it’s going to take reaching them on their level, and that means through technology."
During her interview, Hysen mentioned Code for America, an organization trying to connect local governments with "technologists" to create solution-based apps in order to increase political engagement at the local level. Residents are given the opportunity to present ideas for city apps which will be considered by tech developers and city officials.
"We need to revert back to local government," Hysen remarked. "Millennials are result driven. Therefore, if they start to directly affect their communities through actionable development, they may have the confidence to transform their state and eventually their country, too.”
To change the 81 percent who don’t consider themselves politically engaged, Millennials need to realize that change is only going to occur if they take actionable steps. This means learning about the political system and raising their voice on issues that go against their values and beliefs.
“If Millennials want to have a voice, they have to create that voice for themselves," Frazee concluded. "The political class has little to gain from listening to a generation that is increasingly skeptical of politicians, and so it is up to Millennials to make our voices heard through effective political organization."
Photo Credit: Jon Dickson