Election approaches; many millennials may stay home

voting

By SALVADOR GUTIERREZ, Staff Reporter ¦

Millennial voters could have a significant impact in the approaching midterm elections, but many say they won’t cast ballots.

Millennials make up a large portion of the eligible voting population in the United States, but in past years the voting turnout of the youth electorate has been low.

“I think there are several reasons millennials don’t turn out at the polls,” said Wendi Swope, president of DoubleU marketing and communication. “Campaign outreach often overlooks young voters because of their historically low-turnout,” she said.

Amarillo College psychology professor Beth Rodriquez said the low turnout stems from millennials’ view of their role in elections.

“I really believe that millennials feel like that their vote will not make a difference,” Rodriquez said. “There is so much information out there that suggests that no matter how you vote it won’t really matter,” she said.

Hayden Pedigo, a local millennial and current candidate for Amarillo City Council place two, said he believes that low turnout is due to the divisive political climate over the last couple of years.

“I think millennials haven’t been voting most likely because they are sick and burnt out on politics, which to be honest, I have felt as well,” Pedigo said.

Yet another reason for low turnout is millennials’ lack of understanding about how much their vote matters.

“Millennials are moved by measures championing personal choice so anything outside of that realm may fall on deaf ears,” Swope said.

Similarly, Rodriquez said she believes that millennials are too involved with their own lives and issues and do not want to take the time to vote.

“It is really hard to listen when people who don’t vote complain about what is happening in the political world,” Rodriquez said.

Some millennials blame their lack of participation in elections on the fact that politicians are not focusing on the concerns and interests of the young generations.

“I think on a local level in Amarillo our city government hasn’t really been too interested in people under 30,” Pedigo said.

Swope disagrees, pointing out that many campaigns are actively courting the millennial vote.

“I think politicians across the country understand the power this generation holds,” Swope said.

“Because of that, many of them are trying to focus on the concerns and interests of younger generations. They are utilizing social media more than ever before to reach millennials across the country.”

An ABC News/GenForward survey released in August found that just 55 percent of millennials said they planned to vote in the midterm elections. Those who do vote are more likely to choose Democratic candidates.

“According to recent national polls, millennials have unfailingly had a more positive outlook toward the Democratic Party,” Swope said.

This inclination toward the Democratic Party has a psychological explanation.

“This is a social psychology situation called confirmation bias,” Rodriquez said.

“As in any or most college settings, democratic views are more often supported because this is often a hard time for individuals in college and support from the government is wanted,” she said.

Party loyalty, however, may not be enough to get millennials to the polls on Election Day. “I think millennials are biased against the idea of parties in general at this point,” Pedigo said.

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