2014: Millions More Millennials

Over the past week, there has been a lot of coverage repeating the familiar narrative that young people don't vote in mid-term elections.

However, voter registration numbers tell a different story.

On election night, the national media exit polls will estimate youth turnout. We anticipate these estimates will continue their pattern of underestimating young people who use cell phones and don't speak English as a primary language. We won't have accurate data until state level vote history is updated months from now.

The Millennial Generation is loosely defined as an age cohort, unlike the Baby Boom that was clearly demarcated by post-war recovery. Depending on the source, the oldest millennials are anywhere from 31 to 34 years old today. So, there are millennial voters who are no longer in the 18-29 age range that most polls use to define youth.

Earlier this year, Catalist partnered with the New York Times to create this fantastic visualization of How Birth Year Influences Political Views. They analyzed hundreds of thousands of interviews going back to 1937 and found that the political events that happen between the ages 14-24 shape a person's partisan views for the rest of their lives.

It is important not to ignore these older millennials who saw the end of Clinton's term, Bush's rise and fall, then the election of Obama in 2008 during their most politically formative years. If history is a guide, these millennials will remain in the Democratic column throughout their lives.

You've probably heard before that the millennial generation is the largest and most diverse in US history. The graph below shows that as they are aging into the electorate, millions more of them are registered and voting each year.


In our April 2014 study of the millennial generation on behalf of the Youth Engagement Fund, we surveyed thousands of millennials online aged 18-31. We found higher intensity about the 2014 election among the older cohort age 24-31, with 33 percent saying they would definitely vote, compared to 21 percent among the 18-23 year olds. We won't know the final numbers for a while, but we can be sure that there will be millions more millennials registered to vote than in 2012.