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Dem-Leaning Millennials and Gen Z to Be Majority of Electorate by 2028

This morning’s reminder that there is hope for democracy comes from two charts in Governing‘s article on the prospect of younger voters affecting election outcomes.

Carl Smith, "How Much Could Younger Voters Affect Future Election Outcomes?" Governing, 2023.04.10.
Carl Smith, “How Much Could Younger Voters Affect Future Election Outcomes?Governing, 2023.04.10.
Carl Smith, "How Much Could Younger Voters Affect Future Election Outcomes?" Governing, 2023.04.10.
Smith, 2023.04.10.

Millennials and Generation Z will constitute a majority of eligible voters in time to elect Joe Biden’s successor in 2028. 56% of Millennials and 77% of Generation Z are inclined to elect Democrats to Congress.

Justice can’t wait for Trumpists to die off and be outnumbered by sensible younger people. But the demographic shift should help our politics get back on the right course.


  1. Ben Cerwinske 2023-04-11 07:37

    Of course there will be some changes as a successive generation takes power. However, we’ve seen what happened when Democrats took Latinos’ vote for granted. Republicans have been able to take advantage of their neglect. Also, attitudes tend to shift the other way as one grows older. A seemingly liberal younger generation will likely develop conservative tendencies. What that will look like remains to be seen.

  2. Edwin Arndt 2023-04-11 08:00

    Cory, I’m not totally awake yet, but it seems to me you are saying that we only
    have democracy when democrats are in the majority. Am I mistaken?

  3. All Mammal 2023-04-11 08:12

    The best part will be when my generation runs for candidacy and my generation votes for one another. Muah ah ah. Bout time congress is chockablock full of good looking, sensible, hardworking do-gooders. Too bad trump monkeys are taking over the rest of the world at the same time. We figured the good earth would be in shambles by the time we inherit her, though. Don’t fret, guys. Relax and fork it over(:

  4. Richard Schriever 2023-04-11 08:49

    Ben and Edwin – your brand of ice cream just doesn’t taste that well. Seems to go be going sour pretty quick to. Maybe need to take a close look at your formula – or is it your sourcing?

  5. Richard Schriever 2023-04-11 08:53

    “Do People Really Become More Conservative as They Age? Folk wisdom has long held that people become more politically conservative as they grow older, although several empirical studies suggest political attitudes are stable across time. ….. Consistent with previous research but contrary to folk wisdom, our results indicate that political attitudes are remarkably stable over the long term. ”

  6. Ben Cerwinske 2023-04-11 10:53

    Richard, did you not bother to read your own source?

    “In contrast to previous research, however, we also find support for folk wisdom: on those occasions when political attitudes do shift across the life span, liberals are more likely to become conservatives than conservatives are to become liberals, suggesting that folk wisdom has some empirical basis even as it overstates the degree of change.”

    That backs up what I said. I never said their conservatism would look like what we see as conservative today. That’s why many conservatives today are more open to something like gay marriage than someone who was considered somewhat liberal 100 years ago.

  7. 96Tears 2023-04-11 11:11

    There seems to be a recent and dramatic shift across the nation in states considered red or leaning red to reject the Republican Party’s platform of removing fundamental rights from wide swaths of the American electorate, law enforcement and institutions, and declaring total war on the rule of law, protection from climate disasters and American democracy. If the party isn’t in the same foxhole with Trump, they are in compliance to let Trump grab their presidential nomination and return to wrecking American institutions that protect our citizens’ safety and opportunities for growth and survival.

    That shift will come to South Dakota when enough people discover they’re the targets of GOP atrocities and not the beneficiaries. The last time so many people found themselves assaulted by GOP policies shoving America in harms way was in the 20s and 30s when Republican presidents and congressmen rammed the American economy into the Great Depression. That Greatest Generation of Americans were the ones who fueled the surge of Democrat Party victories in the 60s and 70s, and a two-party system in Pierre that survived until the later 90s. When those Greatest Generation voters died off, so did a base that could elect a statewide Democrat officeholder.

    There’s no need to provide the litany of stupid and wrong policies that are the hallmark of deadbeat governor Kristi Noem. She’s been on record too often shoving South Dakotans (even Republican legislators!) of all ages and genders under the bus to lift her sagging, dead-on-arrival presidential prospects off the ground.

    Considering the uselessness of the current state Democrat Party, the best move they can make right now is to get the hell out of the way and let that new generation of ticked-off activists control their own destinies.

  8. DaveFN 2023-04-11 11:38

    Simplistically, it takes two to tango: those who will be the future electorate and those who will step up to the plate to be elected.

    Wagers on the best prepared in the latter group?

  9. Ben Cerwinske 2023-04-11 12:08

    DaveFN, hopefully someone like Katie Porter can continue to work her way up the ladder without having to concede too much. Bernie got audaciously close. There’s always hope that AOC is just playing the long game, but for now has largely backed down.

  10. O 2023-04-11 12:25

    There was also such hope when Clinton took office – that he marked a generational shift in politics. That did not work out as we had hoped: a new coat of paint on tired old deregulation/free market policies that have hurt the working people of this nation. Somehow, no matter the “generation,” the 1% get their disproportionate say in governance.

  11. David Newquist 2023-04-11 12:35

    There is much confusion about where the two major political parties stand currently in the development of our democracy. (Some wing nuts will shout that we are a republic, not a democracy, unable to grasp that a republic is a form of democracy.) When I moved from Illinois to South Dakota in 1979, I was a registered Republican, a Lincoln Republican. There were two major reasons. The first was that during the civil rights movement, the Democrats were snarled up internally with the southern segregationists. Republicans under the leadership of President Eisenhower laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960. There was little concern about what was liberal and what was conservative. The debate was about who advanced liberty, equality, and justice.

    My second reason was literally a neighborhood one. A neighborhood playmate, Tom Railsback, a Lincoln Republican, served eight terms in the U.S. House after serving in the state legislature. After graduating from Moline High School, he went to Grinnell College, and then to Northwestern University law school. However, he torqued off some downstate bigots, who clung to segregationist values, because while serving on the House Judiciary Committee, he voted to impeach Nixon. After a gerrymander of his district, he lost in a primary to a more conservative candidate from downstate, after a gerry-manner changed the boundaries. But the district which had voted Republican for its congress person for decades, voted for the Democrat. And except for a two-year interlude with a fumbling tea-bagger, it has remained in Democratic hands.

    The GOP drifted over to become the party of Jim Crow. When I came to South Dakota the most prominent Republican was Gov. Bill Janlow, who did get things done. But some of the things he got done were not in the best interests of liberty for all, equality, or justice. So, when I registered to vote, I chose another party.

    The projections for coming generations is based upon their understanding of how the constituents have shifted around among the parties and where they see a better future for democracy. They make their choices on the quality of democracy, and thus many young and talented people choose to get out of South Dakota, which is a refuge for the party of Jim Crow.

  12. Ben Cerwinske 2023-04-11 12:36

    O-Exactly. Even Obama didn’t deliver on everything he probably could have. His use of drone strikes being an oft-cited example of continuing and in some ways perhaps expanding the military industrial complex.

  13. O 2023-04-11 14:56

    Beyond the oversimplification of age groups and general party affiliation, I want to see ISSUES: what issues seem to lean these young people more blue than red? Climate Change, Social Justice/Inequality, Gun Control all seem to be issues that the current “red” power continues to be at odds with counter to the younger generation. In the face of this, red power has dug in; the next generations will have to pry any change out of the control of that red base. Even when it begins, the job of unraveling the judicial system will take a generation of focused work.

    Unfortunately, there were also expectations that the Vietnam generation would not tolerate policies that perpetuate the military industrial complex and the US war machine, but here we sit with BOTH firmly in place and expanding while that generation had full ability to involve themselves in political change. Peace, love, and understanding wilted to the profitability of the corporate structure of death dealing.

  14. Richard Schriever 2023-04-11 15:08

    Ben, I did in fact read the summary (which was all this is) I did not look at the statristical analysis to see if there was a “significant” change to the population as a whole. But this line from the summary, “… overstates the degree of change.” coupled with “…..on those occasions when political attitudes do shift across the life span, liberals are more likely to become conservatives than conservatives are to become liberals,” seems to suggest that for the individuals that change perspectives – your conclusion would be based not on the population as a whole, but ONLY for people who’s views do shift. Again, IF a person’s views were to become more conservative (or more liberal) taken as a whole, those people who do change views DO NOT have an impact on the over-all population’s tendencies. I repeat – DO NOT have any impact on the views of the population as a whole.

    You seem to want to present the notion that there is in fact a general population-wide tendency toward conservatism that correlates highly with increased age. That is NOT what the linked study or nay others have shown. You do understand that the second part of their analysis that addresses the issue of “…..when political attitudes do shift across the life span…..” is NOT the main topic of, and in fact does not address the main topic of the study – right?

  15. Ben Cerwinske 2023-04-11 15:24

    Richard, at least you’re making some sense now instead of rambling incoherently about ice cream. Care to address the underlying point that once a group actually has power they tend to keep most things the way there to keep it?

    Take climate change for instance. Are the next generations going to fix it if it means lowering their quality of life in any way?

  16. P. Aitch 2023-04-11 15:52

    It is important to respect diverse political beliefs and opinions, and to prioritize understanding and cooperation over division and polarization.
    – Political blogs are often a detriment to progress for a few reasons. First, they often create echo chambers where like-minded individuals solely consume content that validates their pre-existing beliefs, rather than engaging in dialogue and considering opposing viewpoints. This can lead to a lack of critical thinking and stifle the ability to effectively problem solve.
    – Additionally, political blogs are often opinion-driven rather than fact-based, leading to misinformation and further polarization.
    – Lastly, the comment sections on political blogs can be a breeding ground for uncivil discourse and personal attacks, which hinder productive conversations and can further divide individuals.

  17. Ben Cerwinske 2023-04-11 16:27

    P. Aitch: Yes. Richard posted two initial comments to mine (which wasn’t to him anyway). The 2nd (while a bit misleading) was perfectly fine. The first however was nothing but unprovoked snark which I’ve been met with almost every time I post here which isn’t that often (in part because of the needless snarkiness)

  18. P. Aitch 2023-04-11 17:18

    So, Ben. Do you consider yourself to be a victim? Be truthful and embrace your feelings.

  19. Mark Anderson 2023-04-11 17:47

    Well Ben, I’ve been called a shark at pool but never a snark, and snark is never unprovoked. I know your statement was generalized and not addressed to me but humor is a way to attack entrenched power. Down here in Florida it’s good to call out our wonderful girly voiced shortstop of a governor who believes he’s a centerfielder. It’s difficult to not attack people who’s only goal in life is to own the libs. It’s fun too. Bye the way AOC is doing fine. My daughter voted for her but now lives in Distict 9. Yvette Clark is her representative. She helped co-sponsor #GreenNewDeal legislation with AOC. They are getting things done and helping young Democrats like Darren Soto from Orlando. Florida isn’t totally fascist.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-04-11 19:07

    Edwin, you certainly stretch to make my actual words fit some other argument you want to have… but when you put the small d on democrats, well, yes: only when a majority of people believe in and fight for democracy can we count on having a democracy. Members of the Republican Party used to be much better supporters of democracy, but their willingness to follow a demagogue like Trump and to restrict access to voting to preserve minority white power à la apartheid-South Africa suggests that we have to hope for more voters to lean toward Democratic candidates to preserve our democracy.

    I am a small-d democrat first and foremost. I am a big-D Democrat only because the Democratic Party does a better job of upholding democracy than the Republican Party.

  21. Kristi 2023-04-11 19:08

    Keep in mind that, despite the demographic and attitude shifts, this might not mean much unless our electoral maps become de-gerrymandered…

  22. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-04-11 19:09

    People do change. Smart campaigners can’t look at the above charts and say, “Hey! We’ve got it made! Millennials and Gen Z will always vote for us!” We have to continue to campaign hard to show we support their values as well as to make the case that they ought to keep those values and adopt more of our democratic/Democratic values.

    The above demographics offer hope and a vital starting point for building bigger electoral wins and bigger margins in statehouses and Congress, especially as we approach the next round of redistricting in 2031.

  23. DaveFN 2023-04-11 20:29

    Ben Cerwinske

    “Are the next generations going to fix it [climate] if it means lowering their quality of life in any way?”

    Good question and fixing it will definitely curtail life as we/they currently know it. The lowest hanging technological fruit that makes our current society run has but few alternatives (despite premature, harebrained publicity in the news media of various experimental results on a small scale that will eventually fizzle), and viable alternatives will themselves have their own major drawbacks as well as be extremely expensive in comparison to technologies of past decades to which we’ve become accustomed. Nope, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

    As far as the next generation balancing change with quality of life, we have to wonder. Young people in France have joined the protest against Macron’s raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 even though Macron’s measure serves their own interest in preserving the pension system for them. Go figure.,bus%20stops%20and%20set%20a%20car%20on%20fire.

  24. Ben Cerwinske 2023-04-11 21:14

    Thanks Dave. In reading that article it seems the young protesters aren’t thinking about the preservation of the pension though. It’s the idea of having to work an extra two years that bothers them (not that I blame them for that).

    Every generation can say “We didn’t start the fire”. True, but some generation is going to have to be the one to put it out. That’s going to require a generation (or 2,3,4…) giving up “living your best life” (at least how many seem to define that).

  25. All Mammal 2023-04-12 01:20

    P. Aitch- Woooo! Back like my man Ric Flair(:

    One thing we need to accomplish that will improve both parties and ensure better quality in candidate selection is eliminating dark money that funnels into races. The politicians should work for the people and that compensation for that job should basically make up all their earnings. No more bought puppets for the über rich. No person or group should have a higher value. One person=one vote. Once we choose from actual public servants who want to appease their constituents, we will be able to vote on the ideas we want to try out , not on personality stunts.

  26. O 2023-04-12 08:08

    All Mammal, I could not agree more with your dark money point. Changing that shows how entrenched the long game was of the GOP: first a legislative shift has to happen for the want to eliminate dark money, then that shift must be sustained to replace Justices to allow restrictions (and not have all restrictions cast away on “Constitutional” objections). Only after outlasting the terms of judges can a legislative solution move forward. One must notice how young our recent Supreme Court nominees and Federal Justices have become from the GOP/Federalist Society.

  27. leslie 2023-04-12 11:09

    96, your bitterness is palpable, and damaging:

    Saying the “uselessness of the current state Democrat Party” alongside “the greatest generation”, who do you think is standing in the maw of Republicans who have torn down the parapets of democracy since 2015? Its not pretty. Young people fear for their futures.

    Of course the SD legislature is a lost cause and the balance of Republicans and Independents in this state will continue the ridiculous mantras of billionaires until a charismatic leader comes out of the woodwork to start all the repairs SD requires, much like our damaged national democracy.

    The gun range is just the latest example.

  28. Richard Schriever 2023-04-12 12:11

    Ben – Nothing I posted was misleading. The first one was a bit snarky and obtuse. What was misleading was the notion that as people age they become more conservative on the whole. I did post a link to a summary of a study that – just like many before it – disproves that myth – I repeat MYTH. I initially, deliberately left out the bit about “When people actually do change….” BECAUSE I felt that bit was misleading and could easily be misinterpreted by someone with a BIAS toward belief in the myth as supportive of their belief. In fact – it is NOT. I am still not being misleading here. Allegorically speaking, the ice cream is the myth.

  29. Ben Cerwinske 2023-04-12 13:41

    Ben, I know that’s a common belief, but there’s been studies that show it’s likely a myth. Here’s the link: *insert link*

    Why would that have been hard for you to write? Why was your first choice to be obtuse and snarky? Why would something like that be so hard for many frequent commenters, not just on this blog, but the internet in general to write?

  30. leslie 2023-04-13 10:52

    Things are changing:

    New York Times twitter

    Gerrymandering and single-party control of state legislatures across the U.S. have meant that in Tennessee and beyond, “there’s nobody to put on the brakes.”

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