80 million Americans, most of whom are in their 20s and early 30s. This means young adults make up the largest age demographic in the United States.
Generation Y made headlines leading up to the 2014 midterms and immediately following the elections for their lack of participation. However, given the size of this voting bloc, young adults can and likely will have a major impact on the 2016 presidential election.
So, who is going to re-engage them?
Experts claim that Millennials are more likely to support liberal social policies. They are more likely to be pro-choice, favor marijuana legalization, support same-sex marriage, and oppose animal testing. They tend to be less religious as well, and are known to be very tech and computer savvy.
However, the 2008 recession hit this group hard. The 2010 U.S. Census reported that unemployment among young adults reached as high as 19 percent. Millennials have also benefited least from the current economic recovery, which some experts say had a major impact in the formation of the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011.
All of this suggests that the economic status of young adults may be playing a major role in their diminished desire to participate in the political process. They feel disenfranchised and left behind by the traditional political establishment.
"These figures illuminate the dreary reality that Millennials have little faith in government, are jaded by the political status quo, and view their vote as powerless to change a gridlocked and unrepresentative political system," writes IVN independent author Jesse Shayne.The Democratic and Republican parties may take the most blame by Millennials for their poor economic status. Conservative Republicans and other conservative political groups will have the most difficult time influencing youth voters.
However, this does not mean Democrats will have an easy road with this age group either. Both parties take the youth vote for granted in one way or another. Democrats assume their support without doing much to reach them, while Republicans just ignore these voters completely.
Looking ahead to 2016, this may be an opportunity for independent and third-party candidates and political organizations to win over this large and important voting bloc. However, it will take a tremendous effort by any political party or group to win over Millennials in 2016.
Independents and third parties need to sell themselves as new faces and fresh blood in the American political arena. They need to sell Millennials on the fact that they can truly have representation within their political grouping.
Hopefully, some of the Occupy Wall Street experience will rub off on some of these young new faces. The social media skills of Millennials will certainly be beneficial in the 2016 election as well.
Combining these skills with the motivation to organize themselves at the grassroots level will make Millennial voters a very strong force that will challenge even the most experienced politicians.
It is time for Millennials to step up and take that important leap into American politics. It is time for them to make the statement that they will no longer be ignored. Perhaps, creating their own political caucus groups around the country would be a good start.
Young adults need to engage and motivate each other into their new destiny. The 2016 election is a major wake-up call for this young, vital group. America needs Millennials to move our national government out of the political gridlock and into a new era of nonpartisan governing.