With the approaching 2016 presidential election, the candidates are trying to convince the remaining undecided voters to vote for them. While many voters already know the party or candidate that they are voting for, there is a usually a group of indecisive young voters to consider: Millennials.
“Millennials, or the demographic between the ages of 18 and 35, are often discussed as if they’re a separate species, with their own unique values, wants and needs that politicians can either cater to or overlook entirely,” stated U.S. News economy reporter Andrew Soergel.
Millennials have surpassed the Baby Boomers as the biggest generation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 75.4 million people between the ages of 18 and 34 in the United States, as of 2015. While the number of Baby Boomers ages 51 to 69 is shrinking, the number of Millennials continues to grow as young immigrants expand their ranks.
These statistics have shown to be a wake-up call for politicians that are trying to make a difference and gain the votes of this younger generation. Many young voters are not affiliated with a certain party and are open to make their own choices.
“I think a candidate needs to look at the millennial voters’ needs and current issues such as college debt, Social Security, and foreign policy. These aspects will affect us directly and in our future when it comes to retirement. We need better judgment on foreign policy [issues] that could put our young people in harm’s way,” stated junior Business Management major Joseph Fuller.
David Cahn, a young millennial author, traveled the country for a year to figure out what his generation is looking for. He summarized his findings a book titled “When Millennials Rule: The Reshaping America” that gives insight into the thinking of many millennials.
“We saw these young people were saying completely different things from the dialogue that’s happening in Washington today. They’re rejecting Democrats. They’re rejecting Republicans. 50% say they’re independent. What’s happening? And in the media, you look at all of the negative stereotypes of millennials. But this is a generation that’s really misunderstood and is going to dramatically impact the future of this country,” stated Cahn in an interview with U.S. News.
Senator Bernie Sanders was able to gain major popularity and support from millennials that were excited by his plans to change the educational system and to cut student loans. However, following his exit from the race, many millennials reverted back to their indecisiveness. Even though Sanders ultimately endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, many millennials went on to support libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
Through the use of social media, Johnson was able to spread the word about his vision and plans which gained him popularity among many indecisive voters. However, realistically, it seems almost impossible that he will be able to affect the race between the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees that have much greater campaign funds and dominate television airtime through debates.
Social media has played a big role in presidential elections since 2008 when President Obama effectively used social networks to gain his edge over the other candidates. Social media presence has again played a big role in people informing themselves about the candidates and their policies throughout this election cycle.
“I was between two candidates ultimately, but social media played a big role in the voter outreach for me. You can really tell what the thoughts and temperament of your candidate [are] when you see how he or she responds and voices his or her opinion on Twitter,” added Fuller.
Millennial voters can make a difference in this presidential election. They are the largest generation in the United States and will have a major impact on the future of this country. Whichever candidate did the best job in targeting this young audience to earn their vote will have a good chance to be the 45th president of the United States of America.