Voters under the age of 54 for the first time turned out in higher numbers than baby boomers and senior citizens during the 2018 midterm elections, a generational shift likely to reshape the future of American politics in the coming years.
A new report from the Pew Research Center shows members of Generation X, the millennial generation and Generation Z accounted for 62.2 million votes in the midterms. Baby boomers and those from previous generations accounted for 60.1 million votes, the research found.
Boomers and members of the silent generation, those who are older than 72, still turned out at the highest rates of any generation. Almost two-thirds, 64 percent, of those voters cast ballots last year.
A little more than half, 53 percent, of Generation X voters — who are between the ages of 38 and 53 — turned out to vote. Just 42 percent of millennials showed up, though that number almost doubled from the 22 percent who turned out in the 2014 midterm elections.
Thirty percent of the eligible voters in Generation Z, those born after 1997, showed up to vote, Pew found.
The shifting generational power within the electorate is a natural consequence as older generations age and younger generations begin participating more in politics. Boomers still represented the largest share of the electorate, at 36 percent, but that is the lowest share their generation has held in a midterm election since 1986.
However, as younger generations begin to claim more political power, generational differences in priorities are certain to shift. Millennials and members of Generation X are far more likely than earlier generations to say immigrants strengthen the country, that government should be bigger and provide more services, or that income inequality is a significant problem in America.
Younger generations are also more likely to acknowledge the human causes of climate change. Nearly two-thirds of millennials, and more than half of those in Generation X, say human activity is behind climate change, while fewer than half of boomers and the silent generation agrees, according to a 2017 Pew survey.
The emerging youngest generation, those who are 22 years of age or younger, are showing signs they are even more liberal than the millennial generation. They accounted for just 4 percent of all votes cast in the 2018 midterm elections, but by 2020 they will make up as much as 10 percent of eligible voters.
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