Wisconsin News

Millennial vote could be difference in election

A depressed voter turnout could hurt Hillary Clinton

Millennial vote could be difference in election

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Election Day is now exactly three weeks away.

Current polling in swing states shows a slight lead for Hillary Clinton, but Donald Trump within striking distance in the race for the White House.

Experts say one particular group, however, could make a big difference in the election.

According to the Pew Research Center, there are nearly 70 million eligible voters in the millennial block this year. About 46 percent of that population voted for president in 2012.

Depending on where that number falls in 2016, and who they vote for, it could mean the difference come Nov. 8.

Students at UW-La Crosse said despite the recent talk from the presidential campaigns, they are still committed to voting on Nov. 8.

"Sometimes it feels like it's hindering my decision to vote, but I always know it's important to vote," Joseph Prekop said.

"I know plenty of people who are planning on not even voting," Jason Machacek said.

Experts say the millennial voting block, particularly those on college campuses, will play a huge role in the election.

"It's significant enough that it could tip elections," UW-La Crosse political science professor Joe Heim said.

But experts expect a change in the turnout from year's past.

"I think it's very easy to predict lower than under (President Barack) Obama. Both Obama elections," Heim said.

Third-party candidates Jill Stein, of the Green Party, and Gary Johnson, of the Libertarian Party, aren't moving the needle for millennials either.

"I think a lot of millennials are looking at them - the Libertarian party or the Green party, but they aren't finding what they are looking for," Heim said.

In recent years, the millennial vote has favored Democrats. That's why experts said if the turnout is lower, it could be bad news for Clinton, the Democratic nominee.

"If they stay home, she's the loser, and therefore their vote is essentially is a vote for (Republican presidential candidate) Donald Trump," Heim said.

Whether they are voting one way or the other, these students say every vote is essential.

"They say if you don't vote, you are voting the person you don't like. So if you don't vote, you're basically voting for the both of them," Machacek said.

"I am a resident assistant here on campus, so some residents have asked me about the election, because this could be their first opportunity to vote, and I told them, vote for what you think is right, don't for other people who are telling you. Really consider what's happening," Prekop said.

Heim said the biggest concern for millennial voters has to do with college tuition and social issues.

That's why the free college tuition plan proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who lost the Democratic nomination to Clinton, made him so popular with younger voters.

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