CA120: Gen X, millennials abound, but oldies decide elections

California is in the midst of major generational and cultural changes.  Nationally, we see the increased influence of Millennials on our culture and waning influence of the Greatest Generation and Silent Generation.

We can also see these effects on our voter registration, but less so in our turnout and who actually participates in elections.

As the graphs below show, our newer voters are heavily dominated by Millennials, Independents and Latinos, but our elections are still being decided by white partisan voters.


Here are the big stories we see in the data:
–Millennials, those born after 1981, and Generation X, born 1965-1980, have quickly become half of the registered voter population in California while the share of every other generation is waning.

–But, still, Baby Boomers(born 1946-1964) and Silent Generation (born 1925-1945) account for 3/4 of votes cast in Primary Elections. Despite being the majority of registrants, Millennials and Gen X only accounted for 22.5% of those who showed up to vote in the 2014 Primary.

— As a share of each generation’s registration, 88% of the Greatest Generation (born 1900-1924) have a partisan affiliation.  Among Millennials, that’s dropped to 59%, and the Millennials’ registration as independents is larger than registration for either political party.

–Nonpartisan voter registration has skyrocketed, primarily because of  Millenials and Generation X. Your chances of running into a Greatest Generation Independent are about the same as winning the lottery.

–Similarly, Latino registration is heavily dominated by Millennials and Generation X voters that make up 65% of the registered Latino voter pool. Since 2004, Millennial Latino registration has grown by more than 250% while the number of Latinos among other generations has grown, on average, just 15%.

–Finally, data from Legislative Historian Alex Vassar shows that while voter registration is empowering Millennials, they are still not well represented in the Legislature with just 6 members, or 5% of the two houses. The last members of the Greatest Generation termed out before 2005.generationsgenerations1generations2generations3Generations4generations5

Ed’s Note: This is the latest installment of CA120, our election-year feature that offers data-driven articles and graphs provided by Paul Mitchell, a veteran Sacramento political strategist and consultant. 

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