News

Millennials were not understood going into general election

Elizabeth Sims | OUCovers16 Reporter | @elizabethsimsou

Gloria Noble | OUCovers16 Editor | @glorianoble_

OUCovers16 conducted a post-election survey to track millennial voting trends in Texas and Oklahoma. The questions were designed to see how people voted and what issues could have contributed to their vote.

We predicted minorities would vote predominantly Democrat, whites would split between Republicans and Democrats and millennials would ultimately go Democrat.

However, respondents demonstrated a lack of continuity in previous voting behaviors. We were unable to identify a conclusive trend and unable to align with previously reported millennials trends.

Before the general election, Clinton was projected to overwhelmingly take the millennial vote and engage former Sanders supporters.

Despite this assumption, OUCovers16 data and national data showed millennial voting trends to be largely unknown post-election. We were uncertain why this occurred when the popular speculation was that Clinton would capture the millennial vote.

Our data was skewed toward white Republicans, and we had an overwhelming female response. Therefore, we chose to focus on our minority respondents to capture a national voting picture in Texas and Oklahoma.

Millennial Party Identification by Racial Identification in Oklahoma and Texas

Even though minorities were slightly underrepresented in our data, we found only two similar responses for minorities: Democratic Hispanics from Oklahoma between the ages of 18-24.

Respondents ranged from an African-American/Asian/American Indian female Democrat from Oklahoma who was 25-35 to a Native Hawaiian male supporting the Green Party from Texas who was 18-24. With a lack of an average response, our data was inclusive for minorities.

Given the inconclusive findings, we began to question the relationship between party identification and youth ideology.

The Brookings Institute data showed Democratic party identification dropped from 45 percent to 37 percent from 2008 to 2016, while liberal ideology rose from 32 percent to 37 percent from 2008 to 2016.

These findings corroborated our own that suggest millennials may have a strong independent streak. They may identify with one party but can cast their ballot for the other. This could add to the unpredictability of future elections.

Our pre-election survey data showed that 30 percent of respondents from Texas said they would vote for Clinton. Of the 30 percent, 17 percent identified as Republican and only 13 percent identified as Democrat. On the national level, 52 percent of respondents said they wanted to vote for Clinton.

Texan Millennial Votes

Graphic by Elizabeth Sims

Only 25 percent of Texas respondents said they wanted to vote for Trump. Of the 25 percent, 22 percent identified as Republican and three percent identified as Democrat.

Twenty percent of Texas respondents said they did not want to vote for either candidate in the two-party system.

But University of Oklahoma political science professor Keith Gaddie said the results of the survey were representative of the people who answered, but might not be reflective of the entire generation.

Historically, a voter’s party identification was largely based on specific political platforms, denoting strong ideology. However, the number of voters identified as independent has risen steadily since 1992, according to a Pew Research Center study.

In our post-election survey, 15 percent of respondents identified as third party, which was higher than the national average of eight percent reported by NPR. Therefore furthering our argument that millennials did not follow conventional voting tendencies.

Since our data was inconclusive, it brought more questions than answers. Now, we wonder how the two-party will engage with millennials and what factors will spur that engagement.

The same article from the Brookings Institute cited how crucial young voters are in local elections and also pointed out they do not prioritize party identification. This formed our wondering about the future of millennial voting trends.

There appears to be only two options for the nation’s millennials: they will become predictable in their voting patterns as they age or they will pave the way for a new political atmosphere.

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