The end of an era may be approaching quickly, as the Pew Research Center predicts that this election cycle may be the first time Millennials and Generation Xers cast more votes than Baby Boomers and earlier generations.
According to a Pew analysis of U.S. Census data, since 1980 Baby Boomers and their antecedents have cast the most votes in each presidential election. As the number of older voters declines and younger voters — supplemented by naturalizations of foreign-born adults — increase, the electorate has experienced a shift toward Millennial and Generation X voters.
As Pew details, Baby Boomers and older generations made up 56 percent of the voting public during the last presidential election. At the time, the number of Baby Boomers and those of previous generations eligible to vote were at about the same level as the number of eligible Gen Xers and Millennials. This year, however, according to Pew, there are more eligible Millennial and Gen Xer voters than there are eligible Baby Boomers and earlier generation voters.
“As of July, an estimated 126 million Millennial and Gen X adults were eligible to vote (56% of eligible voters), compared with only 98 million Boomers and other adults from prior generations, or 44% of the voting-eligible population,” Pew reports.
While the raw number of younger eligible voters is greater than Baby Boomers and older generations, there is often a real question about whether of not they will show up at the polls.
Historically, eligible Millennial and Gen X voters have not exceeded Baby Boomers in voter turn-out. According to Pew, in 2012 and 2004, 70 percent of eligible voting members of the Baby Boom, Silent, and Greatest generations voted. In 2008, 69 percent of these older generations made it to the polls.
By contrast, in 2012, 53.9 percent of eligible members of the Millennial and Gen X generations turned out to vote. In 2004, that percentage was 54.2 percent and in 2008 that percentage was 56.6 percent.
As Pew highlights, if in fact Baby Boomers and older generations are able to match that 70 percent turn out rate — with 68.6 million voters—, Millennials and Gen Xers could still match them with a turn out rate of 54.5 percent.
“The Millennial and Gen X generations are likely still on the upswing in terms of their turnout rates, so it is a reasonable guess that at least 54.5% of these adults will vote, and perhaps more,” Pew reports.