Democrats go all out to court young voters for 2020

Democrats are aggressively wooing Gen Z as well as millennial voters, hoping a new generation will help carry them to the nomination — and the White House — in 2020 after historic turnout from the age groups in last year’s midterm elections. 

Younger voters have typically turned out at lower rates than other demographic groups in elections, but they defied expectations in the 2018 midterms, with a 16-point jump in voting by 18- to 29-year-olds compared to the 2014 election, according to census data.

Overall, 36 percent of voters in that age group cast a ballot last year, compared to 20 percent in 2014. Analysts believe a similar number or higher during a presidential year could make the difference in a race that President Trump won last time around by just a few percentage points in several key battleground states.

Democratic presidential contenders have thus ramped up their pitches to young voters through frequent visits to college campuses and an increased presence on social media. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), for example, kicked off a tour of universities at historically black colleges this week. 

However, there is no guarantee that Democrats' investment in the youth vote will pay off. While issues such as reducing college debt and climate change tend to align with the interests of young voters, polling data has also shown that young voters tend to identify as independents and that they tend to be skeptical of both parties.

“It might be tougher to convince a young person to vote for you, but I think at the end of the day, something that every candidate and every kind of advocacy group needs to keep in mind is that this demographic isn't a party ticket voter,” Layla Zaidane, chief operating officer at the Millennial Action Project, told The Hill. 

“You have to be really thoughtful about not only what you're telling them to get them excited to vote but why you're telling them that in the first place,” she continued. 

Among presidential contenders, Sanders has perhaps been the most successful. Helped by the slogan "Feel the Bern," the democratic socialist gained a large following among younger voters in 2016, giving him a fighting chance against eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.

The 79-year-old has maintained his focus on young voters this time around, including through college visits and his new community organizing app.

He leads the party's field among young Democratic voters, with 33 percent support among those under the age of 35, according to a recent NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll.

Campaigns are also providing training on campaign organizing and courting volunteers. 

More than 1,500 students across the country signed up for Sanders's summer program training on campaign organizing, said campaign spokeswoman Belen Sisa. 

Meanwhile, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s (D) campaign is also wooing young voters, running ads on Spotify and Pandora as well as organizing on college campuses, specifically in early primary states. 

His campaign said campus organizers at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa have held about 30 events aimed at recruiting young voters, while the campaign’s campus organizers in South Carolina have had 40 events. Both are key early states in the Democratic primary.

Buttigieg himself has used his status as a 38-year-old millennial to talk about generational change on a number of issues.  

“As a millennial, he has a lot at stake,” said Chris Meagher, Buttigieg’s national press secretary. “He was in high school during Columbine. He’s a veteran of one of the endless post-9/11 wars.”  

“We’re facing challenges like climate change and gun violence and the economy, where wages are stagnant. If we don’t do anything, it’s going to be too late to act, and it’s going to impact us down the road,” he continued. 

The policies that are dominating the Democratic debate appear at first sight well suited to court young voters. Though definitions vary, millennials are usually seen as those born between 1981 to 1996, while Gen Z includes those born after 1997.

Democrats such as Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have campaigned on eliminating student debt as well as taking more aggressive action on gun control and climate change — all issues that polls have showed appeal to young voters.

Gun violence in particular has had a particularly traumatic effect on younger voters, who were in school during a number of mass shootings, including in Sandy Hook, Conn., and Parkland, Fla. 

“This is the generation of kids who grew up with active shooter drills, and for a lot of kids, this — the Donald Trump presidency — is their defining touchpoint with politics because they were perhaps too young to even vote the last time,” said Andy Bernstein, executive director of HeadCount, a nonprofit that works with musicians to promote voter turnout.

However, whether the investment in courting young voters will succeed remains in doubt.

Pew data has shown younger voters tend to be more independent, and young voters have had much lower participation in elections than other age groups historically, though the uptick in 2018 has raised optimism among organizers.

“The challenge is young voters are new voters,” Carolyn DeWitt, president and executive director of Rock the Vote, said. “They are completely new to the process. We don’t do a lot in our society and in our public school system to prepare them to be engaged, active participants in our democracy.”

Various groups are stepping up their efforts to turn out the vote among 18- to 29-year-olds, including partnering up with celebrities popular with the age cohort. 

This year, HeadCount partnered with pop star Ariana Grande to set up booths and register people to vote at every concert on her Sweetener tour. 

HeadCount later partnered with March For Our Lives, the youth-led movement for stricter gun control measures that arose from the Parkland shootings, registering voters at 30 marches and a summer bus tour. 

These groups believe this time around it could be different, potentially changing the scope of elections because of the sheer size of the groups being targeted. More than 75 million people are considered millennials, according to Brookings, while around a quarter of the U.S. population is seen as belonging to Gen Z, or roughly 82 million.

That makes them a potentially powerful electoral force and a boon to Democrats — should they succeed in winning them over.

“Millennials and Gen Z will comprise nearly 40 percent of the electorate next year,” DeWitt said, “which is incredible power to decide who wins elections, both at the local level and at the federal and presidential level as well.” 

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Gov signs bill bill to offer higher education tax credit

SALEM, Ore. - Rep. Jack Zika, R-Redmond,  attended a ceremony Tuesday afternoon in Gov. Kate Brown's office as she signed legislation that will provide a refundable tax credit to all Oregonians saving for university, community college, trade school or any other type of accredited, post-secondary education.

House Bill 2164, the "Education Savings Credit" bill, was passed during this year's legislative session and takes effect on Jan. 1.

As part of Oregon's Future Caucus of young legislators, Representative Zika was an advocate on the passage of HB 2164.

"Our whole economy can benefit when we increase access to higher education and training," Zika said. "I'm proud to join my colleagues in supporting legislation that will benefit our younger generation and incentivize savings for higher education."

Oregon's Future Caucus is a bicameral, bipartisan group of 12 legislators age 42 and under focused on issues relevant to young people and to the future of our state. 

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WisEye Morning Minute: Bipartisan Efforts Towards 2050 Energy Goals

At the Customers First! Coalition Energy 2050 Power Lunch, Rep. Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee) and Rep. Amanda Stuck (D-Appleton), the co-chairs of the bipartisan Wisconsin Future Caucus, gave opening remarks. Rep. Neylon spoke about the Clean Energy Corridor Grants which would create a public-private partnership to create strategic Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure. "This is a green initiative, that's also going to create jobs and grow this economy in terms of renewable energy economy, and I think that's a place where [the parties] can meet in the middle." Rep. Stuck highlighted how there's a lot of agreement on both sides of the aisle across the country on the future of energy. "There seems to be a lot of agreement on where things are going in the future and a lot of areas where we can talk about what's coming and find ways to truly work together on these issues."

#morningminute #wisconsineye

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Leadership in Action: Bipartisanship and Young America

Polls show just more than half of young American voters believe that today's political discourse is far too polarized and partisan. With the 2020 election cycle fast approaching, the country's youngest voting bloc appears eager for change in the way Washington operates. Many issues that are top of mind for young Americans will require the support of both parties in Congress to reach the President's desk and be signed into law. 

At a time when hyper-partisan rhetoric seems to be dominating the national political debate, is a middle ground possible on key policy issues? How are leaders in Washington working to keep the American Dream alive and what conditions need to be created to ensure that good ideas gather support, regardless of the political landscape?

Continuing our Leadership in Action series, The Hill will convened congressional leaders and policy experts for an evening of conversations to explore the nation's legislative climate and the political pulse of the country's youth. 


  • Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA)

  • Rep. John Curtis (R-UT)

  • Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI)

  • Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA)


  • John Della Volpe, Founder, SocialSphere and Director of Polling, Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics

  • Cherisse Eatmon, State Caucus Network Director, Millennial Action Project


  • Vicky Wilkins, Dean, School of Public Affairs Department of Public Administration and Policy, American University


  • Steve Clemons, Editor-at-Large, The Hill

  • Peter Greenberger, Publisher, The Hill

  • Julia Manchester, Staff Writer, The Hill

Millennial Action Project Working To Bring Politicians From Across The Aisle Together

Steven Olikara, founder and president of the Millennial Action Project, explains what the 'post-partisan' nonprofit is doing to push bipartisan legislation through Congress.

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Millennials can’t afford real estate — destined to remain sad apartment dwellers

By John Aidan Byrne

The American Dream for millennials just turned a new corner: Thanks to soaring student debt and crushing financial liabilities, homeownership is not in view.

Despite a slight uptick lately, the homeownership rate among millennials remains the lowest compared with previous generations. Roughly 1 in 3 US millennials under 35 owned homes at the end of last year.

Many analysts say indicators point to US millennial homeownership declining, perhaps even heading for a dive if a recession strikes.

According to a new study by LendEDU, 26% of millennials who are not yet homeowners identify a lack of savings; 10% blame “overwhelming” student loan debt; 5% blame “overwhelming” credit card debt; 6% blame other debt; and 17% cite poor credit. Nearly a quarter cite low income.

“I would love to own a home but I face what many other millennials are facing — the cost of mortgages and homeownership is beyond our means right now,” Steven Olikara, founder and president of the nonpartisan advocacy group Millennial Action Project, told The Post.

“It is really tough,” added Olikara, a college graduate, single and in his late 20s, who lives in a rental. “I see too many of my friends who’ve had to put their dream on hold because of too much debt, or because they do not have enough income.”

With job gains holding US unemployment at a historically low 3.7% rate — and the economy growing despite some pullback — millennials should be in a sweet spot. But analysts say overwhelming debt and a dearth of well-paid jobs are hurting the demographic, made up of roughly 22- to 37-year-olds.

“I see this phenomenon in my practice on a nearly daily basis,” said Gary DeVicci, managing director of advisory services at CPI Companies in Voorhees, NJ. “Millennials are often forced to move back home to save money and/or to reduce debt, so they can get ahead with their financial lives, which means buying a home of their own — the cornerstone of the American dream.”

But their debt is escalating. According to the Northwestern Mutual 2018 Planning & Progress Study, the typical millennial had some $36,000 in personal debt last year, excluding home mortgages. Millennials nationwide had one of the largest jumps in credit card debt in the past 12 months, with each holding an average of $4,712 in card debt in the first quarter, according to Experian.

And student debt, at some $1.5 trillion-plus, continues to skyrocket.

The Millennial Action Project’s Olikara cited a need to “embrace further flexible versions of college and dramatically improve vocational and other job training programs.” He added, “The last recession, and the burden of student and other millennial debt, have shifted the conversation. The economic challenges faced by millennials is a problem for the entire nation — everyone benefits if millennials do well.”

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Neylon touting GOP proposal to use VW settlement funds for charging stations

Neylon touting GOP proposal to use VW settlement funds for charging stations

Rep. Adam Neylon is touting a Republican proposal to use Volkswagen settlement funds to place electric vehicle charging stations along major driving routes in the state.

Chyung among young lawmakers taking part in “future summit”

Indiana House Democratic Caucus

INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Chris Chyung (D-Dyer) was among a select group of young lawmakers from across the country who participated in a three-day “Future Summit” earlier this month in Nashville, Tennessee, designed to discuss policy initiatives of interest to future generations.

Chyung took part in the Millennial Action Project’s (MAP) third annual “Future Summit,” an event that drew nearly 60 legislators to collaborate on innovative solutions to the issues that matter to the next generation and learn tactics to encourage more collaborative governing environments in their statehouses.

“More young people are gaining interest in serving their communities through elected office, and they share common concerns that groups like MAP can help develop into actual policies that benefit us all,” Chyung said. “In addition, we share a collective belief that partisan gridlock in governmental institutions must be broken in order to make progress. MAP enables Republicans and Democrats to come together to achieve those goals.”

The “Summit” enables young lawmakers to build relationships across state and party lines, empowers them to effectively work across the aisle, and connects them with innovative policy resources and ideas. Topics discussed during the conference included the student debt crisis, redistricting and the census, modernized voting, the future of work, and attracting and retaining young talent.

“I am finding that we share many of the same goals, and by sharing information, I am hopeful to use some of the things I learned at this summit as a basis for legislation in the upcoming session of the Indiana General Assembly,” Chyung said.

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Legislators feel the winds of change at Colo wind farm

Legislators feel the winds of change at Colo wind farm

On Tuesday, state legislators embarked on an all-day tour of renewable energy facilities in Iowa. During their visit to Colo, they toured the Story Winds facility and got a snapshot of Iowa’s wind energy industry. The group of legislators are a part of Future Iowa Caucus, a bipartisan group of state legislators age 40 and younger, included Rep. Lindsay James, D-Dubuque; Rep. Joe Mitchell, R-Mount Pleasant; and Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville.