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Talking About Their Generation

September 14, 2010

In the “Free Speech” section of the new issue of California, Chris Smith, M.J. ’01, looks at the political potential of the so-called Millennials, the generation born between, roughly speaking, 1980 and the late 90s. As Smith points out, the Tea Party may currently get all the press, but it’s this demographic contingent that will have the greater political impact in the long run — by far. “The numbers tell the story,” he writes.

Noisy as they are, only about 5 million people—or 18 percent of the electorate—call themselves Tea Partiers. And as Peter Leyden, founder of San Francisco new media startup Next Agenda and coauthor of a 2007 study on Millennials, reminds me, the Tea Party is on the wrong side not just of history but of demography. “Every year, another 3.6 million Millennials become eligible to vote, and zero more 60-year-olds become eligible,” he says. Moreover, by 2016 all 80 million Millennials will be of voting age. “Demographically, they’re just starting to flex their muscles.”

Read “Generation Politics” in the Fall 2010 issue of California.

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