Experts assess how millennial voters may affect the 2018 midterm elections
Millennial voters could have a significant effect in the November midterm elections, an important consideration on National Voter Registration Day. Photo by Theresa Thompson.

Experts assess how millennial voters may affect the 2018 midterm elections

For National Voter Registration Day, two experts from USC Dornsife’s Center for the Political Future predict that young citizens will play a key role in this November’s vote. [2 min read]
Jenesse Miller

Millennials are an unpredictable voting bloc. Young voters could have an outsized influence on a number of important races in the upcoming midterm elections, but experts are split on whether this will be a watershed year for millennial turnout.

Today is National Voter Registration Day, when civic groups hope to inspire millennials and other targeted groups to register to cast their ballots. USC experts weigh in on whether young voters will turn out and make a difference in November.

Predicting a millennial tide

Portrait of Robert Shrum

Robert Shrum. Photo by Matt Meindl.

“Millennials have the capacity to determine the future of the country. For the first time, more millennials could vote than seniors. But they have to register and they have to vote, and they will live in this world longer than the rest of us. I sense that, here on campus, college students are more engaged than they’ve ever been, more interested in politics and readier to participate.

“I think you are seeing high levels of interest in this election from young people; but of course interest isn’t enough, they have to cast a ballot. A lot of people say, perhaps cynically, that young people just won’t vote in the numbers they could. I don’t agree with that. I think this year will be a watershed year; I think we will see a millennial tide in the midterm elections.”

Robert Shrum, Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics and professor of the practice of political science, is director of the new USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future.

Bad news may suppress millennial vote              

Portrait of Jill Darling

Jill Darling.

“In a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll of 5,044 adults conducted this summer, voters under the age of 35 were the least likely to feel positive emotions such as satisfied, hopeful or pleased about news emanating from Washington, D.C. They were also the most likely to report negative feelings.

“Young millennial voters are not alone in experiencing negative feelings about the news; very few voters of any age in our poll reported feeing positive emotions. However, unlike older voters who reported that these feelings are translating into an increased motivation to go to the polls in November, most young millennials said the news is either having no effect or making them feel less motivated to vote.”

Jill Darling is survey director at the Center for Economic and Social Research at USC Dornsife.