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Posted by on May 18, 2009 in Politics | 10 comments

The Millennial Generation

I am a Baby Boomer, born in 1950. My daughter is a Millennial, born in 1989 (the extreme young end). So you can imagine how interested I was to read this story at the Center for American Progress:

It’s a “New Progressive America” out there, as I argued in my recent Center for American Progress report, with a new demography and a new agenda. The new demography refers to the array of growing demographic groups that have aligned themselves with progressives and swelled their ranks. One of the most important of these growing demographic groups is the strongly progressive Millennial generation, whose demographics, voting behavior, and policy preferences are covered in detail in my new CAP report with David Madland, “New Progressive America: The Millennial Generation.”

Between now and 2018, the number of Millennials of voting age will be increasing by about 4 and a half million a year and Millennial eligible voters by about 4 million a year. And in 2020, the first presidential election where all Millennials will have reached voting age, this generation will be 103 million strong, of which about 90 million will be eligible voters. Those 90 million Millennial eligible voters will represent just under 40 percent of America’s eligible voters.

Last November’s election was the first in which the 18- to 29-year-old age group was drawn exclusively from the Millennial generation, and they gave Obama a whopping 34-point margin, 66 percent to 32 percent. This compares to only a 9-point margin for Kerry in 2004. Behind this striking result is a deeper story of a generation with progressive views in all areas and big expectations for change that will fundamentally reshape our electorate.

Of course, I had to immediately call my daughter and find out if she knew this, because in addition to being a Millennial, she has strongly progressive political views. Among other things, she was part of the wave of college students who went down to Virginia over Election Day to get out the vote for Obama:

Millennial Daughter: Hi!

Boomer Mom (not bothering to return greeting): Did you know that you are a Millennial?

MD: Uhhh…

BM: You’re part of the Millennial Generation. I’m a Baby Boomer. You’re a Millennial.

MD: Ummm, oookay….

BM: I guess you didn’t know it! Okay, let me read you something.

[BM reads first three grafs of CAP article, quoted above.]

[From MD, there is silence, then stifled laughter.]

BM: So, what do you think about that?

MD: Weelll, it’s interesting… But I don’t really believe in this generations thing. I think it’s kind of a huge generalization to say people think a certain way because of their generation.

BM (deflated, but speaking in a bright voice so as not to show it): Oh, okay! So what are you up to right now?


You know what, though? In my secret heart, I still am excited that my daughter is part of this cool generation of Millennials who helped to make history on November 4, 2008.

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  • mikkel

    “Weelll, it’s interesting… But I don’t really believe in this generations thing. I think it’s kind of a huge generalization to say people think a certain way because of their generation.”

    I didn’t either until I started working with and thus interacting with people of all ages…the worldviews and aptitudes are extremely different in the 20-35, 35-45 and 50+ groups. At least intellectually if not politically.

  • DrToast

    I think the Internet has a big impact on the Millennials being more progressive.

    I think it’s easier for them to be exposed to other cultures, even if it is only done digitally.

  • kathykattenburg

    I agree, Mikkel, and why shouldn’t they be? There’s a significant difference in the political, social, and cultural landscape from one generation to another. Nate Silver had an interesting article recently in which he described how he found that a person’s political viewpoint (meaning, liberal or conservative) was strongly correlated with who was president when they came of age. If you came of age during Eisenhower’s admin or earlier, you are much more likely to be conservative than if you came of age after JFK. I came of age in 1968 (Lyndon Johnson’s second term). My daughter came of age at the end of George W. Bush’s run. Of course, I’m sure there’s much more to it than that, but it could be a factor.

  • StockBoySF

    So… does this mean that the GOP is dead? I’ll donate a grave marker.

  • I came of age during the middle of W’s presidency. What does that make me? I consider myself a moderate in some cases, but also have fairly wildly ranging views, some conservative and others liberal.

    So I’m not sure the “you are who your president was” theory always holds out.

  • superdestroyer

    If the Milliennialist are such activist then why are they working so hard to ignore the consequences of things such as open borders and unlimited immigration, a 3.5 trillian dollar budget, the changing demographics of the U.S. Do the progressives really believe that the U.S. can maintain a massive social-welfare state while having a population that will soon be less than 50% white?

    If white progressives are so tolerate of diversity then why do they keep holding up Finland, Sweden, and Denmark as being examples of the best counties in the world and why do they all want to move to Vermont or Portland?

  • PWT

    It has nothing to do with the generation, it has everything to do with age. To bastardize an old quote:

    “a man under 25 who is not a progressive has no heart,
    a man over 25 who is a progressive has no mind.”

  • kathykattenburg

    Michael, of course it doesn’t always hold out. We’re talking about a huge cohort of people — we’re talking about a strong correlation over a large population group, not every single individual in that group.

  • kathykattenburg


    And a man who takes glib, catchy jingles too seriously is a fool?

  • rudi

    The Millennium Democrats are just this generation’s version of Macomb Reagan Democrats from 1980. These white blue collar voters stayed with the Republicans for 20 years until their 401K’s disappeared due to a voodoo curse.

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