By Tyler Hustwick
Recently, plenty has been said about Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1997. Employers want to know how to manage us, brands want to know how to sell to us and now, politicians and presidential hopefuls want to know how to connect with us. But why are we so damn important?
According to U.S. Census Bureau and Pew Research Center data, as of 2015, the 75.3 million Millennials living in America have officially eclipsed “Baby Boomers” as the nation’s largest living generation. Ranging from 18-34 years old and composing 24 percent of the nation’s population, we as millennials still find ourselves climbing the income ladder, but our group’s size and age range foreshadow our long-term social, economic and political influence.
2008, 2012 and Beyond…
The 2008 election set the stage for the importance of Millennials and the youth vote. More than half of all eligible youth voters, ages 18-29, took to the polls in that election, accounting for nearly 23 million votes. Compare this to the average youth turnout of the 1990’s, which was somewhere near or below 40 pecent and you have an uptick in voting that has certainly caught the attention of those seeking political office.
If 2008 wasn’t compelling enough, 2012 reaffirmed the importance of the youth vote. According to analysis by the CIRCLE Research Institute, Mitt Romney would have tiptoed his way to the White House if he had managed to simply split the youth vote. Instead, Barrack Obama easily won over young voters, 67 percent to 30 percent. Had Romney achieved a 50-50 split of young voters in four key battleground states: Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, he could have flipped those states to his column and, in turn, won the election. So in 2015, what are presidential hopefuls doing to connect with the youth vote?
Social Media & Then Some
As the 2016 presidential election nears the one year countdown mark, candidates are crawling over every social medium they can find. Hilary Clinton and Jeb Bush have already found themselves in a good old fashioned Twitter fight, Ted Cruz Periscopes on a regular basis, Bernie #FeelTheBern Sanders crushes Facebook with his nearly 2 million followers, Marco Rubio tells “Snapchat Stories” and Donald Trump…well The Donald just #YOLOs on social media all day long.
However, a social media presence isn’t the only approach candidates are taking to attract Millennials. Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, Jeb Bush and others have flocked to late-night television in the hopes of establishing themselves in the minds of an audience that may not be partial to traditional political news programming and perhaps, to show that they offer a shred of humanity (I mean, what else would persuade Carly Fiorina to do this?). But are these tactics helping or hurting candidates in the eyes of young voters?
A Message To The Candidates:
We as Millennials have no problem with your attempts to show some personality, but please know that we are not total idiots. So before you decide on what to do during your next goofy tonight show appearance or what celebrity selfie to share, don’t forget what really matters most: the issues.
Tyler Hustwick is a Millennial, a San Diego native and a graduate of the University of San Diego. He is a program assistant with Stalwart Communications, a San Diego public relations firm.
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