For the past five election cycles, candidates, campaigns, and SuperPACs have worked tirelessly to target key voting blocks of people. Party politics zeroes in on women, Hispanics, and Millennials, but there has been one group which has been hard to tame: Millennials.
Unlike most voting blocks, Millennials are taking a pass on party loyalty. Rather, they’re opting to vote on issues versus strictly along party lines. This type of civic engagement coupled with the transformation of both parties into some alternate version of what they use to be has caused the emergence of a new kind of political party, the Lost Generation.
Comprised of the fallouts of moderate party members and issue voters, Millennials are once again breaking boundaries and redefining what a civic engagement looks like at the polls. Untethered by partisanship, Millennials opt for candidates who share a similar world view and vote based on their conscience. Often driven by key issues, the Millennial voter is an enigma to both parties as they work to woo them.
When our Founding Fathers were ratifying the Constitution and working to build one nation under God, they never could have imagined a time when political parties would find themselves front and center. Millennial voters are one of the largest voting blocks in the country, making them a prime target during election cycles. However, they buck playing (read: voting) by traditional party lines and instead vote to the beat of their own drum.
Trying to make inroads with Millennials is not something that happens overnight, nor is it something easily accomplished in a world where both Republicans and Democrats seem to sit on the far end of their party spectrum. With party polarization at an all time high, Millennials find themselves caught in the middle being forced to choose; especially during election season.
It is no secret, the first contact most Americans have with political parties is at the age of 18, when they first gain access to the ballot box. When a president is widely respected, young voters will gravitate towards their party in future elections, but if the opposite is true, they usually opt for the opposing party.
For example, many young American voters who came of age during the economic malaise under President Carter aligned themselves with the Reagan Revolution and have been a part of the Republican generation ever since.
Throughout most of America’s history this partisanship can be seen as true, but against the backdrop of Trump’s presidency, things have changed. Millennials voting in 2016 bore witness to a deep political divide, one that has not been seen since the 1970’s during the Vietnam era. As a result, this generation chose to focus on issues they’re passionate about and to abandon the partisan vitriol which has become mainstream.
As America looks ahead to 2018 and 2020, the question lingers, how does either party capture and maintain the Millennial vote? Identifying key issues and relying less on party affiliations. In a nutshell, more substance and less rhetoric. This fickle group of voters, Millennials, have found themselves voting in a country trapped between two very starkly contrasting partisan ideals. Long gone are the days of moderate political parties. Both parties have continued to pander to the base which often times is comprised of the far right or far left.
Being such a large age group of voters, Millennials fulfill their stereotype as ‘Generation ME’ and their determination to pave their own way. In the world of politics they have found themselves unfulfilled by partisan politics and find difficulty in identifying with one particular party for longer than a nanosecond. Candidates and campaigns may find this frustrating, but they should embrace it. After all, Millennials have the ability to force both Republicans and Democrats to spend more time on solving problems, and less time mired in party politics.