Nov 1, 2018

A horde of millennials are running for office

Democratic Socialist Julia Salazar, a candidate for New York state Senate, delivers her victory speech in September. Photo: Scott Heins/Getty

Avery Bourne, Danica Roem and Jewell Jones are all part of a rare cohort — millennial lawmakers, making up just 6% of state legislatures across the country. But there may be a lot more of them starting next Tuesday.

Why it matters: Numerous studies signal a surge of youth voting in next Tuesday's midterm elections. But what has been less apparent is that millennials — as a group holding very different views by and large from older Americans — may significantly increase their seats in state legislatures and Congress.

  • About 700 millennial candidates are running in the approximately 6,000 state legislative races.
  • Most are Democrats.
  • If there is a wave of victories, as some forecast, that would lower the average age of 56 in the legislatures.

The big picture: Millennials are most likely to identify as liberal, numerous studies say. But Steven Olikara, founder of the Millennial Action Project, a national political group, tells Axios that millennials are also more likely to be bipartisan than their older counterparts.

They have "new ideas, fresh perspectives ... not focused on the left-vs-right agenda. The senior members are rigid in their thinking and more tribal in their politics. That’s part of a product of being in politics for such a long time.”
— Steven Olikara

Mark Gearan, director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard, tells Axios, "This is a generation less wedded to ideology and more open to creative ways to fix the problems that affect their daily lives, from healthcare to college tuition to finding good jobs."

By the numbers:

  • Between 600 and 700 Democratic millennials are running for office in 46 states, according to Run for Something, a Democratic group.
  • Republican groups contacted by Axios said they do not have a precise number of millennial GOP candidates. David James of the Republican State Leadership Committee said there are a "bunch of them." Among them are Bill Essayli, Meagan Hanson and Amber Little-Turner, running for seats in California, Georgia and Pennsylvania, respectively. They are on the RSLC's "18 Races to Watch" list.
"We are the future, and it’s great to see so many young Republicans stepping up to lead in their communities. It all starts at home!"
— Matthew Oberly, spokesman, Young Republican National Federation

What to watch: The burst of political participation by a more diverse and digitally savvy generation comes as young Americans have already taken over mayoral offices in Alabama, California and Indiana.

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