Democrats Need Millennial Women to Win

Democrats may want to take back control of Congress in November, but their chances of doing so are currently split. One large online prediction market continues to favor the Democrats for just one of the two chambers.

Here’s where the Dems stand, according to odds generated by the users of predictit.org:

  • Who will control the House after 2018?: Democratic (65%), Republican (39%)
  • Who will control the Senate after 2018?: Democratic (29%), Republican (74%)

Basically, the House looks relatively secure for Democrats, while the Senate is pretty much a lock for Republicans. So what can the Democrats do between now and November to secure all of Congress? We continue to believe millennials are key. A couple of points here:

  • Growth in the millennial electorate: The number of millennials eligible to vote is nearing baby boomers, according to Pew. In the last national election (2016), 62 million millennials (aged 20-35) were voting-age US citizens compared to 70 million baby boomers (aged 52-70) and 57 million gen xers (aged 36-51).
    Put another way, millennials represented 27% of the eligible voting-age population compared to 31% for baby boomers, with 25% and 13% for gen x and the silent/greatest generations (aged +71) respectively. The balance includes those born after millennials.
    Bottom line, the “baby boomer voting-eligible population peaked in size at 73 million in 2004”, whereas the “millennial electorate will continue to grow, mainly through immigration and naturalization”. Source: Pew
  • Millennials, particularly women, favor Democrats: A recent Pew survey found that 68% of young women (aged 18 to 34) favor the Democratic congressional candidate in their district compared to 54% for women overall. Just 24% of young women favor the Republican candidate compared to 38% for women overall. Women’s preference for Democratic candidates only strengthened after President Trump was elected.
    By contrast, young men (18-34) actually favor the Republican candidate slightly more than men overall: 50% vs 49%. Still, nearly half of young men (47%) favor the Democratic candidate vs 43% of men overall. Source: Vox

Here’s the wrinkle, however: fewer people vote in midterms vs. national elections, and this also holds true for millennials:

  • Voting rates increase with age: Just 23% of millennials (aged 18 to 34) voted in the 2014 midterms versus a high of 69.4% for those 65 and older. In the 2016 general election, 46.1% of younger Americans (aged 18-29) voted versus 58.7% for 30 to 44 year olds and 70.9% for those +65. Sources: Census 2014Census 2016
  • Recent polls are showing similar patterns to prior elections: Just 28% of those aged 18 to 29 said in June that they are “absolutely certain” they will cast a vote in the midterms versus 74% of seniors, according to the Public Religion Research Institute and the Atlantic. Another poll from AP-NORC and MTV found that 32% of young voters said they were “certain to vote” versus 56% who said they were likely to vote in the midterms. Sources: CNNPRRI
  • Young voter registration rates are up: One recent study did find “registration rates for voters aged 18-29 have significantly increased in key battleground states over the last seven months”. They attributed this growth in part to the Parkland shooting, as since then the “share of youth registrants nationwide has increased by 2.2%”. Source: TargetSmart

In sum, the data is clear: millennials may feel strongly about the current state of politics, but Democrats will need to leverage this sentiment to actually get them to the polls. Otherwise, history has shown the younger the voter, the less likely they are to vote. That could be the Republican’s biggest asset as they have the least support from that cohort.

Why this matters to equity markets: US stocks have had a great run with Republicans in charge of Congress and the White House. Will they be as happy with a Democrat-controlled House?

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