Millennials Are Poised to Disrupt the Presidential Race

For the first time, millennials will match baby boomers as a share of the electorate. http://on.wsj.com/1olyP2V
  1. About half of millennials—who account for 31% of eligible voters—don’t identify with either party.
    Polling data suggest they will present a challenge to Republicans and establishment Democrats this election.
  2. Millennials are distinctive on a variety of fronts:
  3. They are the most ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history.
    Some 43% are nonwhite, compared with 28% of baby boomers.
  4. Millennials are less religious than their elders.
    Some 35% aren’t religiously affiliated, compared with 17% of boomers.
  5. They are also slower to marry.
    Twenty-six percent were married between ages 18 to 33, down from 48% of that age bracket in 1980.
  6. Both parties are watching millennials carefully because young people are seen as shaping debate on social issues such as gay marriage and racial diversity.
    (Photo: AP)
  7. “I kind of hate to say it,” says GOP pollster Bill McInturff, “but the millennial generation is now important.”
    The Republican Party has traditionally drawn its greatest support from white, religious, married people with traditional values.
  8. The shift among young voters on social issues cuts across race and party.
    On gay rights, 64% of millennial Republicans believe homosexuality should be accepted in society, compared with 45% of baby boomer Republicans. On immigration, 57% of millennial Republicans say immigrants strengthen the country, compared with 39% of baby boomer Republicans.
  9. Economic issues don’t cut clearly in either party’s favor.
    Many millennials entered the workforce in the throes of the 2008 financial crisis and the slow-growth period that followed.
  10. Some GOP candidates have been looking for an opening in the economic pressures that millennials feel.
    “The consequences of Obama’s agenda have really come home to roost” for young people, Ted Cruz told a college audience in New Hampshire. (Photo: AP)
  11. For the Republican front-runner, Mr. Trump, the growing millennial vote cuts two ways.
  12. Some younger voters like his unscripted style.
    “He’s the most honest candidate we’ve ever had," says Robbie Maass, 34, a Republican farmer from Iowa. (Photo: AP)
  13. But his anti-immigration stands pose a risk of alienating young voters.
    18- to 34-year-olds are the least likely age group to view Mr. Trump favorably, with only 17% rating him positively.
  14. For Hillary Clinton, the results in Iowa and New Hampshire reveal that she has much work to do to win over millennials.
    “I feel like she has changed her mind on things because that is what is popular for Democrats right now,” says Alison Sanderlin, a 26-year-old from Richmond, Va. She’s backing Bernie Sanders. (Photo: Getty)
  15. In Iowa, millennials favored Sanders over Clinton by an overwhelming 84% to 14%.
    In New Hampshire, young voters favored Sanders by a nearly identical 83% to 16%. (Photo: Reuters)
  16. “Young people are really less interested in past accomplishments and more interested in today and the future."
    “They look for candidates who are focusing emotion, talking about the moment, being authentic," says John Della Volpe, who as director of polling at the Harvard Institute of Politics has been surveying millennials since 2000.
  17. For the coming election, 60% of millennials say that they preferred a Democrat to win the White House.
    However, any millennial advantage for Democrats will matter only if young people are motivated and turn out to vote.