Taking on Lena Dunham’s claim that the Millennial vote was overwhelmingly against Trump

2016/11/16 § Leave a comment

Last night I wrote about Lena Dunham and how her posture towards those who have voted for Trump is strikingly arrogant and ultimately unhelpful. But something else she said deserves special attention:

Millennials overwhelmingly voted against Trump. Our generation says no, as do first-time voters, to what this man and his presidency represent. We reject, wholesale, his brand — any brand — of hatred and bigotry. We are the generation with the strongest and most vast understanding of identity politics yet. We recognize intersections and contradictions and want to make room for them in people and in government. Our hearts are open, but our resolve is strong. We want to create a different kind of America than has ever existed. America will not be great until it fulfills its promise of liberty and justice for all.

The way Dunham put it, it sounds as if there were no Millennials that supported anyone other than Clinton.

But this isn’t true at all.

2016-youth-voting-by-age

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) released an exit poll, demonstrating that not only did less Millennials vote for Hillary Clinton than Dunham implies, but less voted for democrats in general (comparing this year’s election with the previous cycle).

Commenting on their coverage of this election season, CIRCLE writes that,

Throughout the election season, our analysis has emphasized the demographic and ideological heterogeneity of Millennials, contradicting facile generalizations that characterize them as the “Obama generation.” In particular, there are regularly stark differences in ideology and issue positions among Millennials of different races, genders, and socioeconomic status.

CIRCLE defined the youth vote of Millennials as “the percentage of eligible 18 to 29-year-olds who voted.” 

The Atlantic had something worth adding to this as well:

When reporting on these data, it’s important to remember that the “youth vote” encompasses a diverse group of voters, and generalizations about them should be avoided. An 18-year-old and a 29-year-old might have supported the same candidate but their reasons for doing so can be—and often are—very different.
But perhaps most surprising is the fact that this exit poll suggests that, compared to 2012, more eligible youth voters either voted for a third-party candidate, did not vote at all, or simply did not answer the poll question.
As of this writing (noon on November 9, 2016), an estimated 23.7 million young voters participated in the 2016 presidential election, which is 50% of citizens aged 18-29 in the United States. We estimate that 13 million youth voted for Secretary Clinton and almost 9 million youth voted for Donald Trump. An additional 2 million young people either voted for third-party candidates or chose not to vote for any of the Presidential candidates on the ballot.

Interviewing one 19-year-old Melissa Kelley on her takeaway from the election, including how she had voted, The Atlantic reports her as saying that she was shocked by the results as well as “nervous for the future.” But though “she admittedly reads left-leaning news sites and surrounds herself with friends who are also Democrats, she said she didn’t realize that people in other parts of the country felt so differently.”

Imagine that: other people seeing things differently than you.
All joking aside, it is very easy to get caught up in our own agendas, thinking that everyone else around us cares or agrees with what we care or agree with. It’s especially easy to do when those in places of power (government, politics, the media) drum up your beliefs to be, well, normative.

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