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How To Get Millennial Voters To The Polls


Millennials are the largest generation in the United States today and politicians want their vote. But we don’t know a lot about their voting habits. Alexander Heffner has studied millennials. He’s host of PBS’s "The Open Mind."

 Interview Highlights: Alexander Heffner:

... on what defines a millennial: "I like to think of millennials as people who came of age in this new century or millennium. There's some technical specifications, born 'x' year through 'y' year - but I prefer this idea that these are young people who came of age during the internet revolution and that transformation from analog to digital."

... on what concerns young voters: "If you ask millennials on a college campus, and I think the results supporting Senator [Bernie] Sanders testify to this: college debt, credit card debt, and just the extraordinary amount of burden, financial burden that young people are experiencing today."

... on why more millennials aren't showing up at the polls: "This is my third election cycle covering millennials and I have to say that remains the question mark. They have not translated individual instances of dissatisfaction with the status quo to a broader engagement in the political process. And so we said in 2008, then again in 2012, now in 2016: 'When will the eggs come home to roost on election day?' There is steady turnout in support of Senator Sanders, but don't let him exaggerate the extent to which young people are turning out for him quite yet. In fact, I think a frightening prospect for the Democrats that in these early primary caucus contests, it's the Republicans who are generating this outpouring of enthusiasm among the electorate."

Alexander Heffner is host of PBS's The Open Mind. Watch a recent episode:

Co-chairs Frank Fahrenkopf and Michael McCurry of The Commission on Presidential Debates talk with Alexander Heffner about their vision for the general election debates.