Following Super Tuesday, the Democratic Party was left with two viable candidates for the 2020 general election: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. With Biden leading the delegate count, Sanders has dropped out of the running for candidacy.
Sanders had been a contender for the liberal party’s nomination thanks in large part to the strong resonance of his philosophies among young Americans. Millennial and Generation Z voters appreciated his sweeping, big government solutions to the country’s problems and made up a significant proportion of his support base.
But these voters, while growing in number, have proven not to be a reliable presence in elections. The liberal party must now decide how much effort to put into mobilizing young voters for the November general election. Are young voters key to liberal victory?
A Growing Force in the Electorate
Millennials and Generation Z make up more than a third of eligible voters in 2020. Millennials, born 1981-1996, make up an estimated 27% of eligible voters, while Generation Z, born after 1996, make up ten percent of eligible voters.
As Generation Z continues maturing to voting age, it will grow into a larger proportion of eligible voters. Meanwhile, the Baby Boomer generation will diminish in size, giving younger generations more power at the polls.
Lackluster Attendance at the Polls
Though more than a third of eligible voters are young adults, several exit polls indicate that youth turnout for Super Tuesday voting was low in 2020. One estimate shows the youth turnout between five and 19 percent in various Super Tuesday states, though this poll does not include older Millennials in its count.
Pundits blame low youth turnout on several factors. Frequent relocation, difficulty navigating the registration process, disillusionment with politics, and a lack of inspiring candidates may all play a factor in dissuading young adults from showing up at the polls to cast their vote.
Investing in the Party’s Future
Though young voters are slow to engage in the political process, the liberal party needs to put effort into mobilizing them in order to increase its power in Washington. Millennial and Generation Z voters make up a significant and critical part of the electorate, and their numbers will continue to grow. Liberal party leaders ignore them at their own peril. It’s likely that young voters are key to liberal victory.