It’s not unknown that millennials had a big stake in the 2008 presidential election. They overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama (66%), which was the largest disparity between younger and older votes in four decades of modern exit polling.
Millennials also showed up to the polls, creating the smallest turnout gap between younger and older voters since 1972. Leading up to the 2008 election, millennials were solidly in the Democratic Party’s camp, and by the time the election rolled around, 62% of millennials were affiliated Democrats.
Since Obama’s election, that gap has shrunk, with only 54% of millennials identifying as Democrats and 40% as Republicans. As with older voters, Obama’s job approval has also drastically declined, from 73% at the time of the inauguration to 57% now. Perhaps due to Obama’s promised ‘change’ in Washington fledgling a year into his administration. Only 46% of millennials believe that Washington has changed since Obama took office.
Examining the Pew results, millennials have become critical in Obama’s handling of several issues, most notably the war in Afghanistan, with millennials the only age group that disapproved more than approved Obama’s handling of the war.
These results aren’t terribly surprising, even historically. Both the Boomers and Silent Generation, when the age of today’s millennials, leaned Democratic, a phenomenon that is not uncommon in political science; that the populace tends to become more conservative or Republican as they advance in age.
But what, if any, effects will this have on parenting? Millennials are largely the children of Baby Boomers. Yet Millennials are much more Democratic-leaning than their parents. A lot of this could have to do with education, as college campuses tend to be a much more liberal environment, and with millennials attending college at record paces, it would only make sense that spending the most formative years of your life in a liberal atmosphere would, in turn, make you more liberal or Democratic-leaning.
But already, we are starting to see a shift in party identification, showing that millennials are not immune to overall public opinion. Their approval of Obama and identification as Democrat is following a very similar curve to their generational predecessors. For millennials, 2008 was the first time the majority of us were old enough to vote, and Obama, even though his job approval has fallen considerably among millennials, his personal appeal has not. Obama, a younger man, an African-American, with his platform of Hope and Change captured the minds of many a millennial, and what we are seeing now could just be the natural disillusionment that comes with the presidency.
However, much of what the results show for party identification and Obama’s approval among millennials has not affected political values. Tomorrow I will discuss the final results of the Politics & Idealogy section and how those results may change party politics as we know it.