In 2008, Millennials (i.e., voters under the age of 30) in the United States were largely responsible for nominating and electing a president. Three years later, young people helped change the world as tens of thousands banded together, organized themselves, became Time's Person of the Year and helped usher democracy in to the Middle East. In 2012, Millennials hold the key to America's future. In the 20th Edition of Harvard University's Institute of Politics Survey of Young Americans we now ask key questions, such as:Will young voters turn out and vote in
- the substantial numbers that they did in 2008?
- Will they spend their free time volunteering and organizing for Barack Obama's America?
- Will they support the Democratic ticket by the two-to-one margin that they did four years previous?
- Is there an opportunity for the Republican nominee, or Republicans squaring off in the primaries and caucuses, to rebuild or create a relationship with the largest
generation in American history?
Arguably the most passionate and engaged members of the electorate when millions cast their first presidential ballot on November 4, 2008 -- Millennials today are growing increasingly frustrated with the direction of the country.
The key findings in our survey suggest that Millennials are prepared to show their frustration not through strong support for the eventual Republican nominee, but rather by punishing President Obama and the Democrats by not engaging, volunteering or voting in the same volume that they did in 2008.
With nearly three-quarters of the generation seriously concerned about jobs and the economy, only about one-in-ten believing our country is headed in the right direction -- and more believing that the President that they helped elect will lose, rather than win re-election in 2012 -- this survey may well serve as an ominous sign for the re-election chances of America's 44th Commander-in-Chief and also the political engagement of America's largest generation.
Even more significantly, this alarming trend of growing Millennial disengagement in the political process has the potential to rob our nation's government and citizens of the talents of some of the most passionate, creative, entrepreneurial Americans our country has ever known.
It will also deprive this generation of a voice in the policy debates and priorities as our nation charts an uncertain future. Tens of millions of Millennials will grow, engage, love and serve their communities and country -- their voice is needed today -- and in the years to come if our democratic institutions are to thrive.