Guest Editorial: How Will Millennials Influence the 2016 Election?

Much about American culture has changed over the last eight years, and the election of a new leader is on the horizon. How will the youngest voters – the millennial generation – choose to act on their right to vote in 2016?

A recent survey of students at the College of Charleston conducted by CNN (2015) shows political uncertainty among young voters. The millennial generation is anxious, and the unusually large choice of candidates is not much easier to swallow. Nick Shawley, a SHU social work major, reflected on the coming election and said, “there is always going to be a level of uncertainty when deciding who they want to run the country.” He also believes that today, politics play a huge role in our everyday lives.

What can presidential hopefuls do to

How can we exercise the right to vote with the "political divide" and age gap between candidates and millennial voters?

How can we exercise the right to vote with the “political divide” and age gap between candidates and millennial voters?

stand out to millennials? Keep up with current trends. Utilizing social media in their campaigns gives potential voters the opportunity to stay updated on political news at the touch of a button, any time of day. Voters can easily chat about the issues and share opinions, discussions, and articles online. Incorporating social media has already happened at many of the debates, where hosts encourage viewers to live tweet their political queries. Candidates will also need to analyze current social movements, since they reveal crucial information about where voter interests lie. Haley Mendola, a senior political science major, personally feels that “candidates who speak out in support for social issues are more appealing to millennials, so they vote for those candidates and it ends up becoming an integral vote in the elections.” Haley also brought up the point that the 2008 election featured an amazingly high number of millennial voters, and they voted because candidate Barack Obama focused on the issues they were concerned about.

The presidential election is a prime example of the democratic process, allowing all citizens, regardless of background, to be heard. Young voters who have come of age since the last election offer fresh perspectives this time around. Since interest in social change movements have grown, new voters could have an interesting take on who’s best for the country. If you are eligible to vote but do not know where to start, you can find registration forms right outside of the registrar on the first floor of the Administration building.

America is moving towards an inclusive, accepting culture, meaning the traditional “political divide” may not work for these voters. Recent interest in this new culture could have a huge effect on past policies and who is elected into office. Candidates need to find a happy medium on the issues to reach uneasy voters and separate themselves from the pack. Even so, will there be a consensus on one candidate? Only the 2016 election results will reveal the true influence of the millennial generation.

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