Millennials Will Spearhead the
Coming Political Realignment
THE CLEAR PATTERN of American political history suggests that the United States is on the brink of its next electoral realignment. This same pattern also suggests that the Millennial Generation will determine the direction that realignment will take. Its presence was barely felt in the 2000 election, when the very first young adults born into this civic generation became eligible to vote, but the number of Millennials participating in elections has grown steadily ever since.
The size of the youth vote began to increase after 9/11. Galvanized by the terrorist threat to the country and later by the Iraq War and other major issues facing the country, the interest in politics and voting among young Americans continues to increase as the United States moves toward its next civic realignment. Survey data indicate that Millennials are significantly more likely to be very interested in keeping up with national affairs than their Gen-X counterparts had been in the late 1980s (36% vs. 24%) (Pew Research Center 2007a). In the 2004 presidential election, the voter turnout of 18- to 24-year-olds rose eleven percentage points over what it had been in 2000.This compared to a four-percent increase among voters over 25 (Cannon 2007).Thirty-two percent of 18- to 24-year-olds told Harvard University's Institute of Politics that they planned on voting in the 2006 congressional elections. That promise was borne out with a 24 percent increase in voter turnout among this age group in comparison to its level four years earlier. And contrary to popular belief, more than twice as many Millennials have voted for a political candidate as have voted for an “American Idol” contestant (Abcarian and Horn 2006).
By 2008, almost half of the largest generation in American history will be eligible to vote, making Millennial attitudes and beliefs the key to