Widely considered a pragmatic, technological, and community-minded generation, millennials continue to increase in the overall makeup of America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials, at 75.4 million strong, have now surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation.
Locally, residents below the age of 25 made up 13,869 of Fulton County’s 42,513 total population in 2012, making it the largest age group in the county, and both parties in the county realize the need to reach to the millennial vote.
Toni Mattin, a volunteer for the Fulton County Democratic Party, points out that her 16-year-old volunteering with the party indicates the role of millennials in the election. It’s their party’s philosophy that millennial voters are drawn towards their platform for the prospect of making history.
“It’s history-making. Clinton could be the first woman president. You’re gonna find a different brand of voters in the millennials,” she said prior to the election.
Although millennials can be found more prominently at colleges and universities, the county Democrats still try to emphasize to those locally that every vote counts.
“I think (the millennial vote) is important every time. This is their future. It’s getting more important in every election. They’re looking past 2016 and looking at the Supreme Court,” she said.
According to an independent survey polling students from five Fulton County high schools and Northwest State Community College, young people are well aware of the issues at hand and their effects.
Of the 200 students surveyed, 84 percent said they considered themselves informed voters. Likewise, 81 percent said they felt their vote matters towards the overall outcome.
Dylan Clifford, 18, a 2016 Wauseon High School graduate isn’t surprised by the response. Clifford, a volunteer with the Fulton County Democratic Party, has tried to communicate his party’s message to the community by knocking on doors and making phone calls.
“We want to vote because we think our vote can make a difference, and if we elect candidates into office, we can change behaviors,” he said of his age group.
The Fulton County Republican Party takes pride in the strong Republican roots in the county. Fulton County has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1932.
“A lot of the young people who are coming in have a that is family dominantly Republican,” said Sandy Barber, Chair of the Fulton County GOP.
This rang true in the most recent election where Donald Trump won Fulton County by about a 36 point margin in the unofficial results. However, the county’s student voters remain split.
In the unscientific survey, 34.4 percent of respondents identified as centrist or independent, while 31.7 percent leaned right with conservative tendencies and 26.8 percent leaned left with liberal tendencies.
While the county GOP acknowledges the negativity surrounding the 2016 general election, Barber says they’re glad to paint their platform in a more positive light through talking with young people.
“My vice chairman has spoken in government classes to keep them informed, but to get into schools, we need to be invited,” she said.
No matter the means that candidates or organizations campaign, millennials in Fulton County say they remain relatively unmoved.
In the county, 41.7 percent said their opinion is only slightly swayed by advertisements, propaganda, social media, and the press, while 33.3 percent said they are moderately swayed.
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