Now, more than half of Americans are millennials or younger

A close examination of 

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To many Americans—especially baby boomers themselves—this news may come as a shock. For them, the term “millennial” has been associated with a youthful, often 

But the current political environment suggests this takeover could be contentious. Millennials and their juniors (Gen Z and younger) are 

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The current demographic shift, however, may work against that strategy—not only because of the changing numbers but also due to a new coalescence around recent events that could increase these younger generations’ political clout. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic will most negatively impact the economic prospects of younger generations, who are 

The second reason for greater coalescence among these generations comes from their increased awareness and activism against systemic racism, stemming from the murder of George Floyd in May.  Even in the face of a dangerous pandemic, this brutal event 

Surveys undertaken even before these recent developments show that millennials and Gen Z 

President Trump’s recent messaging—attacking protests with “law and order” rants about crime, retweeting a video promoting white power, and celebrating Confederate monuments—is clearly intended to solidify support from his base to counter the movement now underway.

In light of this, the question remains: Can the new activism among millennials and Gen Z translate into the political support necessary to elect progressive and Democratic candidates in November? These two generations now comprise a greater share of the eligible voting population (37%) than has ever been the case. It’s about the same share of eligible voters as baby boomers and their elders—generations that voted for Trump in 2016 and for Republican candidates against President Obama.

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Bear in mind that younger voters tend to have lower turnout rates than older voters. In 2016, just 51% of eligible voters under age 40 turned out, compared with 70% of those over age 55. But given the strong Democratic support shown in previous presidential elections among Black voters and, to a lesser extent, Latino or Hispanic and Asian American voters, the new energy of this 

This trend may find some headwinds due to the fact that increasing numbers of all residents (including whites without a college degree) 

If the nation’s most racially diverse generations—which now comprise more than half of the population—can spearhead a movement that engages their older peers and parents, it would send a strong signal that the country is changing in important ways. Projections show that by 2030, millennials and their juniors will make up more than half not just the population, but of all eligible voters. With America’s youth already leading the charge against systemic racism and economic injustice, we can hope that it won’t take another decade before the vital change comes to the nation.

Watch the July 23, 2020 event featuring William Frey’s research,