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For the first time, millennial and Gen-X voters cast more ballots than boomer and older voters in the 2016 elections, an early sign of an inevitable generational shift of political influence.
An analysis of population and election data by the Pew Research Center found that millennials and Gen-Xers cast 69.6 million votes last year, a slight majority of the 137.5 million total ballots. Boomers — born 1946-1964 — and older voters slipped to a minority of the electorate while casting 67.9 million ballots.
The trend mostly reflects the march of time, as the giant millennial generation (1981-1997) and the smaller Generation X (1965-1980) gradually increase their turnout, and as more people of older generations die or are incapacitated by illness.
As a result, an outsized boomer influence at the polls over three decades — marked by the election of boomer presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — is bound to fade.
“The ascendance of the millennial vote is noteworthy because millennials are more likely to be self-described independents, but they also are more Democratic than older generations in their political preferences,” Pew demographer Richard Fry wrote in an article published Monday summarizing the analysis.
Fry noted that last year 55 percent of millennials and only 43 percent of boomers identified with or leaned Democratic. “And on issues such as marijuana legalization and same-sex marriage," he added, "millennials take more liberal positions than those in older generations.”