Election Season: Do young voters have 2020 vision?

by Christian Klein–

Blacksburg, Va., February 19 – Prospective voter Jared Wirt prepares for the Las Vegas Democratic debate later in the evening. Photo: Christian Klein

 

Looking back on the 2016 Presidential Election, many were caught off guard when Donald Trump was elected to become the 45th President of the United States. Reports after the election concluded that Trump had overcome what were seen as enormous obstacles.

While it may seem as though there are more millennials than any other age group, they often don’t turn up to polls when their duty calls. The US Census Bureau states eligible voters 18-29 showed up the least of their peers at only 46.1% in 2016. According to exit polls, the three youngest ranges of voters, 18-24, 25-29 and 30-39, all voted for Hillary Clinton.

While it may be easy to say that if more younger voters had turned up at the polls, the outcome may have been different, the reality is that the quantity of the vote does not outweigh the quality of it.

Dr. Karen Hult, professor of political science at Virginia Tech, says having more people turn out isn’t exactly the biggest problem she sees in voters.

“I think informed voting is almost as important [as high voter turnout.] Some of it is doing a little bit more work and reading on one’s own.”

Dr. Hult realizes that extra work isn’t pleasing to hear, but insists it’s necessary in today’s climate.

“You got to look across a variety of sources, that’s really difficult. The media environment . . . [is] far more fragmented, far more narrowcasting.”

The narrowcasting Dr. Hult speaks of relates to targeting specific audiences with one topic or message, a strategy used across political and business communication. While narrowcasting is a topic on many voters’ minds, some choose to circumvent the traditional media circus.

Jared Wirt, an upcoming voter, says he is concerned about the lack of action actually being taken.

“I feel like people miss the point, in whether we hear people arguing, instead of actually trying to figure out solutions.” He continued to voice his desire in a candidate that isn’t as extreme and tries to mend the gap across the aisle.

By the time the general election takes place in November, Pew Research Center says nearly forty percent of all eligible voters will belong to either the Millennial or Gen-Z generations.  According to Dr. Hult and other experts, it is important to cross-reference information before making a decision.

Exit polls show that in 2016, one out of every ten voters had gone through the process for the first time. Their experience, combined with the new batch of first-time voters, will likely increase the younger demographic that felt marginalized in the previous presidential election.

No matter which party is victorious in November, it is up to the American people to decide who leads them for the next term. This includes the presidency, but also state representatives. Regardless of party affiliation, it is every citizen’s right to vote, and the country eagerly awaits its new leaders in a tumultuous time.