As I aimlessly strolled through Carytown, the overwhelming number of man buns, thrift shop tees and birkenstocks were impossible to ignore.
“All of these people seem really … young,” I thought to myself.
I stopped to do a double take. Sure enough, no individual older than 40 could be found in the sea of Richmond locals — which even for a plaza as vibrant and modish as Carytown, was strange.
“This can’t be right,” I thought to myself. “Maybe I just don’t see old people.”
Turns out I was being ridiculous and I don’t have an age filter in my retina, there just weren’t any old people in my vicinity.
My experience may have seemed like some utopian apparition, but some interesting data supports the reality of what I saw that day.
A young professional scene, craft beer and hipster coffee shops have brought the River City an influx of young people and its average age down to a mere 32. Richmond isn’t alone in its so called “youthification.” Turns out there just happens to be a lot of us everywhere. You may not be surprised to find out that, millennials — ages 18 to 34 — are now the largest living generation in America, according to the Pew Research Center.
What may surprise you (and be of interest to a political junkie like me) are the socio-political implications of that fact.
Because of our unique vantage point, our approach to issues and maybe even just the world around us is quite different from other generations.
According to a poll of millennials by the Harvard Institute of Politics from this summer, a majority do not support capitalism, about half believe that the “American Dream is dead” and that our justice system is unfair and more than 4-in-5 say significant reform in Washington is needed.
“A young professional scene, craft beer and hipster coffee shops have brought the River City an influx of young people and its average age down to a mere 32.”
In Virginia, a December 2015 poll by Christopher Newport University indicated that while millennials tend to distance themselves from the two major political parties, just as our older counterparts do, the dissociation from the Republican Party among young people is much more pronounced than with the Democratic Party. 37 percent of Virginia millennials identified as Democrats while 24 percent said they were Republicans.
A 2015 study by Pew found that 40 percent of millennials in the U.S. support government restrictions of speech offensive to minority groups. Donald Trump’s campaign built around the destruction of political correctness may not resonate well with younger crowds — and that’s when we’re looking at polls conducted well prior to his recent “grab them by the pussy” debacle.
Hillary Clinton’s solid lead in Virginia, which has been fueled by the millennials may be a testament to millennials’ newly discovered political capacity.
Clinton leads Trump in the commonwealth 42-35 in a recent CNU poll. Among millennials, she received 42 percent of the vote to 24 percent for Trump and 24 percent for Johnson.
But, as everyone knows, polling data does not equal votes. Will millennials vote? That’s the age-old question that can only be answered after ballots are cast and counted.
One thing is for sure — If millennials do show up at the polls this time around, we have a chance to exert our will on the outcome of this election.
Fadel is a junior political science major. He is fluent in English, French and Sarcasm, and he probably doesn’t like you. Fadel enjoys writing about local, regional and national politics and making people drive him to Cook-Out. Fadel is too stubborn to write his own bio, so his executive editor had to do it for him. No hard feelings, though.
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