Gallup polling reported that only 69 percent of Americans responded that they would ‘definitely vote’ in November’s presidential election, the lowest percentage since the poll began in 2000.
But the make-up of why this number is so low is a dangerous sign, driven by Millennials and Democratic voters withdrawing from the process at a faster pace than any other demographic.
Only 47 percent of those 18 – 34 responded that they would ‘definitely vote’ in November, still trending downward from 2008’s peak at 74 percent.
The 18 – 34 demographic tends to be higher in Democratic voters, and this is helping to drive the slump in Democratic participation — hovering at 65 percent, with Republicans leading at 76 percent.
What’s driving the slump in 18-34 year-old voters?
In 2008, Barack Obama was able to energize this age group, capturing most of the younger generation’s vote.
But too often, the generation that supported Obama felt abandoned after the election — health care took center stage in the political arena, a topic not exactly considered important to young, healthy adults.
President Obama faced a large slump in this demographic’s participation in his re-election in 2012. He never quite regained the trust young voters had placed in him.
In 2015/2016, Bernie Sanders’ rockstar appeal to young voters attracted huge crowds to hear his progressive ideas — important topics to younger voters such as student loans, college tuition costs, and maternity/paternity leave.
But once again, the hope of a candidate supporting their ideals was taken away after a bitter primary season, one driven by party insiders crowning Hillary Clinton before the first primaries and caucuses were held.
And while Clinton has tried to woo the younger generation of voters by picking up on some issues important to them, she’s not getting the trust or enthusiasm they had for Sanders.
Gary Johnson’s support has been very strong in the younger generation brackets, but his dis-inclusion from the debate process has crippled the viability of his campaign’s message — and younger voters supporting the third party candidates are frustrated by their voices not being heard, once again.
Additionally, media outlets like CNN are not even bothering to poll the younger generation — an almost blatant signal that their voices don’t matter in the process.
This is forming a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the major parties and media have declared that the younger generation doesn’t matter — and it ‘won’t’ because they have become disenfranchised with the entire election process, with many choosing the protest vote of ‘choosing not to vote.’
American politics tends to be short-sighted; 2016 is probably the last election where the ‘silent generation’ will have a major impact. These same disenfranchised voters will have more power than ever before in four years, and they will probably make the political process pay for their arrogance over the past decade.
The shifting demographics is just another sign that 2020 could very well be the year of the independents — but only if they start seriously laying the foundations now, and building momentum over the next four years.
The ‘silenced generation’ of Millenial voters is going to become the most powerful voting bloc, along with the Baby Boomers in 2020 — and they are probably not going to forgive the major parties for ignoring them over the past decade.
Photo Credit: AL.com