Darrell Berkheimer: Millennials will put Democrats in control
It will be the millennials who will decide the outcome of this year’s midterm elections.
And I’m continuing to predict that the Democratic Party will gain majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate — and that the millennials’ vote will be the deciding factor.
We have observed that both women and minorities are highly energized for this year’s elections. The various state primaries show the results; and this year already has been labeled “The Year of the Women” by some pundits.
It’s also been speculated by some that if the Democrats win the House and/or the Senate, it will be the result of an informal coalition of women, minorities and the millennials. The turnout by millennials is considered the most questionable.
But not to me.
To be specific, millennials are ages 18 to 35 — defined by Pew Research Center as all those younger voters who turned 18 each year since 2001. And latest estimates indicate that right now there are more millennials than in any of the other three adult generations — GenXers (36-54), the Baby Boomers (55-72), and Traditionalists (73-plus).
Estimates put the total at somewhere between 75 and 80 million millennials who could vote this year, if they’re registered. But the big question is how many of them will vote. Because traditionally, the youngest generation tends to provide the lowest percentage of voters.
That was not the case two years ago. Pew research reported 34 million millennials cast ballots in 2016 — nearly double their vote in 2012.
According to Rock the Vote, “Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation and this year we will be the largest voting bloc.”
Young people tend to be considerably more idealistic than we more cynical oldsters. And as they look at their world today, they see the many opportunities available for them to make changes for the better. They also can see that this year’s midterm elections are providing one of those tremendous opportunities.
I first predicted that Democrats will win control of both the House and Senate back on March 18 in my column titled “GOP facing decline to irrelevancy.” In it I listed a dozen reasons why that will happen. And the first four reasons I listed generally match the top three critical problems that concern millennials.
Each year the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Survey asks millennials what they consider the most serious issues affecting the world today. Last year’s survey results — published this past February — listed climate change as their number one concern for the third year in a row.
Second on that list is large scale conflicts that might send millennials to war, including the costs of those conflicts. And third was income inequality and discrimination.
The first four on my March list were: 1. Climate change; 2. Military conflicts; 3. Inequality, and 4. Discrimination.
Numbers 4, 5 and 6 on the millennials list are poverty, religious conflicts, and government accountability and transparency, including corruption.
Although I think that survey was conducted nearly a year ago, I believe climate change would continue near the top of their list in this year’s survey. That’s because I am sure millennials have noted how President Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress have relaxed, revoked or ignored many environmental regulations that were adopted to save our planet and protect us from various health dangers.
On inequality, the GOP tax cuts have aggravated that problem. And I suspect — because of the chaos, scandals, various fraud and lying charges during the past year — that corruption might have climbed a bit higher on their list than number 6.
In addition, gun control — which was not on their list — has become a strong issue for those who just turned old enough to vote during the past two years. That was number 6 on my list last March.
The real voting wave that I see is the tsunami-type wave of disgust with the failures of the current administration and Congress to act on so many growing problems. That list is long.
It includes deteriorating infrastructure, soaring healthcare and pharmaceutical costs, mounting national debt, unresolved veterans’ issues, escalating education costs, dying rural areas, pollution, high infant mortality, homelessness and the lack of affordable housing — in addition to the concerns already cited.
That disgust over failures to act on all those issues, while the corruption continues, is quite noticeable among Republicans as well as Democrats. And it will have the greatest voting impact on Independents in all four generations.
I’m sure the majority of the political prognosticators see the same signals that I see, but they’re afraid to go out on that prediction limb with me because they’re afraid to be wrong two national elections in a row. I have no such fear.
This year millennials have an opportunity to show that it is not money that will decide the power in Congress, but the voters.
To help my forecast come true, I’m planning on asking friends and relatives to prod the millennials in their families to vote — by emphasizing that it is millennials who have the most to gain or lose as a result of this year’s midterm elections.
And I’m hoping you will do the same by encouraging them to vote.
Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He is the author of five books available through Amazon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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