Gen Xers and Millennials out-voted older generations in 2016 Voting booths at the National Museum of American History. (Mr. Gray/Flickr/Wikimedia Commons)
Gen Xers and Millennials out-voted older generations in 2016
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The number of Millennials and Generation Xers who cast votes in the 2016 election was big. It surpassed the number of Baby Boomers, Silent Generation voters and Greatest Generation voters for the first time. That's according to Reid Wilson at The Hill. 

That generational shift in voting power will continue in future elections. That's according to a report put out by the Pew Research Center. It is likely to reshape the political landscape of the United States in coming decades.

Out of 137.5 million votes cast, 69.6 million came from voters under the age of 51. That's according to the study. Voters in the older generations cast 67.9 million votes.

The switchover is an inevitable part of demographics. Richard Fry is a labor economist at the Pew Research Center. He tells Wilson that Baby Boomers have been the most numerous voters since 1984. Baby boomers are those born roughly between 1946 and 1964. They remained the largest block of voters in 2016 with 48.1 million voter, representing 35 percent of the electorate. This number was down 2 million from a peak of 50.1 million Boomer voters in 2004. As the oldest Boomers reach their 70s, their numbers will continue to decline.

Millennials are defined by the study as those between the ages of 18 and 35 in 2016. They will continue to grow as part of the electorate for two reasons. First, immigration and naturalization will add to their numbers and second, as people age their voting participation tends to increase. 

The Greatest or Silent Generation had a 70 percent voting participation rate last year. Boomers voted at 69 percent. Gen Xers voted at 63 percent, while Millennials voted at 49 percent.

The study reports that the shift in the electorate has political implications. For instance, 55 percent of Millennials identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents. But only 33 percent identified themselves as leaning toward the GOP. Millennials tend to hold more liberal social views. 

Danielle Kurtzleben at NPR reports that this change in ideologies doesn't necessarily provide a clear political forecast. Other studies show that Millennials are more polarized than other generations, with more identifying with extremely conservative or extremely liberal positions. More Millennials also self-identified as conservatives at high school graduation than either Baby Boomers or Generation Xers did at the same age.

Kurtzleben points out that one of the most surprising aspects of the study is that it took this long for younger voters to take center stage - there are currently 126 million eligible Gen X and Millennial voters versus 98 million Baby Boomer and older voters, according to Pew.

Then again, even though eligible Gen X and Millennial voters were roughly equivalent to Baby Boomer and Silent Generation votes in 2012, while 70 percent of the older generations turned out that year, younger voters only turned out at 53.9 percent. They cast fewer total votes.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is it significant that GenX and Millennial voters cast more votes than other generations?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (11)
  • GregoryM-del
    10/23/2017 - 03:53 p.m.

    It is significant that GenX and Millennial voters cast more votes than other generations because their votes change outcome of the election. They make their values and opinions heard.Young voters reflect on what their generations grow up learning. Social media that younger generations use is also a large factor.

  • MarianaG-del
    10/23/2017 - 04:37 p.m.

    It is significant that Gen X and Millennial voter cast more votes because they are the next generation of voters and will determine or future.

  • AnnabelleA-del
    10/23/2017 - 05:06 p.m.

    Because the "Baby Boomers" generation is old, when they pass, these generations will be the main voters.

  • ElvinaI-del
    10/23/2017 - 07:40 p.m.

    i think it is interesting how when people age, their voting participation tends to increase.

  • EvanC-del
    10/23/2017 - 08:11 p.m.

    I thought this was an exciting topic to read. It's crazy how many people liked Baby Boomers.

  • RushB-del
    10/23/2017 - 09:11 p.m.

    It is significant that more GenX and Millenial voters cast more votes because it shows the generational shift of future electors and it shows how the political landscape is starting to change

  • RushB-del
    10/23/2017 - 09:16 p.m.

    It is significant that GenX and Millennial voters cast more votes than other generations because it shows how there is a generational shift for voting power and that will continue for future elections it also shows how the political landscape is changing.

  • SofiaT-del
    10/24/2017 - 03:42 p.m.

    Gen Xers and Millennials out-voted older generations in 2016. This will reshape the political landscape of the US.

  • DevanS-del
    10/24/2017 - 05:39 p.m.

    I think it's important for the Gen X and Millennial voters to cast more votes than other generations. These two generations make up most of our population. If both generations unite and vote together, they will surpass the minority and get what they want.

  • AlejandraC-del
    10/24/2017 - 11:32 p.m.

    This is significant because it shows the change in the number of votes according to age groups. It shows the change in interest since the older part of the population is more likely to be more interested in what has to do with voting while the younger generation is more careless when it comes to this.

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