A recent Harvard poll, young Millennials (18-24 year olds) have been trending less Democratic. With a drop of 12 percentage points from November 2009 to November 2013.

This is in sharp contrast to 2008, when youth voters identified with the Democratic Party by an almost 2 to 1 ratio.

In surveys conducted between October 2007 and March 2008, 58% of voters under age 30 identified or leaned toward the Democratic Party, compared with 33% who identified or leaned toward the GOP. The Democratic Party’s current lead in party identification among young voters has more than doubled since the 2004 campaign, from 11 points to 25 points.

What factors account for the large drop in young voters identifying with the Democratic Party?


2 Answers 2


Many young voters are registered to vote under the Motor Voter law, which as implemented in most states, does not establish a party identification when they are automatically registered to vote upon obtaining a driver's license. So, they are never affirmatively required to take the act of identifying with a party as voters historically had to do.

It also reflects a generational rejection of existing institutions, more generally, including political ones.

But this is purely a branding issue. Despite not identifying as Democrats, young voters continue to vote for Democrats in proportions greater than this age group did in 2008.

For example, in the two main 2020 Presidential election exit polls:

The Votecast (CNN) breakdown of Biden support by age was:

18-29 61% (60%)

30-44 54% (52%)

45-64 48% (49%)

65+ 48% (47%)

CNN also had a different age breakdown with Biden support as follows:

18-24 65%

24-29 54%

30-39 51%

40-49 54%

50-64 47%

65+ 47%

Exit polling by CNN in 2022 reflects the same general trend:

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(The bump between 18-24 year olds and 25-29 years olds in the 2022 exit polling, given the subsample sizes, is just barely statistically significant, and both age groups under age 30 still trend more Democratic in how they actually vote than any age group aged 30 and up.)

It isn't just in the Presidential election particularly pitting Biden against Trump either. Generally speaking, younger voters in the U.S. at this time are more liberal than older voters in almost every dimension you can measure with polling.


Generally, young voters are less conservative than older voters. This produces a paradox when a progressive party or president is in power. If young voters tend to vote for change, they may do so by voting against the party in power, and (incidentally) for a right-wing (and hence "conservative") opposition party.

Young voters are also more likely to change their voting preferences. Older voters may have voted in one direction over several election cycles and it has now become fixed. Young voters don't carry this baggage. In an environment in which the progressive party is becoming less popular in general, this is leveraged among young voters who will therefore move to change their votes in larger numbers than older voters.

In the context of 2008-2016, young voters were significantly attracted to Obama's message of "Hope" but by 2013, Obama was the status quo, and they were "Hoping" someone else could be the change in politics that they wanted.

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