Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 February 2018
In addition to being the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, millennials comprised an equal number of the voting-eligible population as baby boomers in 2016 and are projected to become the largest share of the American voting-eligible population by 2018. Drawing from several distinct datasets, this study explores three primary topics: (1) examining how race influenced the vote choice of millennials in the 2016 presidential election; (2) comparing partisanship and vote choice among white millennials to older whites; and (3) identifying differences between white millennials who voted in 2016 to those who did not cast a ballot. The study finds that young whites are the outlier category of their age group; being white is associated with a higher probability of voting for Donald Trump, even when accounting for the effects of racial resentment, partisanship, ideology, and other factors. While white millennials appear conservative relative to their peers of color, however, the preferences of young whites are more Democratic than older whites. Non-voting white millennials are more likely than their voting counterparts to identify as independents and ideological moderates, making them a political swing bloc as white millennials age. While political observers are quick to point to the liberal-leaning preferences of young people as a whole, disaggregating the 18–30 age group by race as this study suggests that the Democratic preferences displayed by millennials in the aggregate are largely driven by the cohort's racial and ethnic diversity.
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