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Millennial Voters and California Politics

    • Millennials are less likely to register and vote than older Californians.
      Millennials (ages 18–35), generation Xers (ages 36–52), and baby boomers (ages 53–71) each account for about three in ten California adults, while the silent generation (ages 71–89) comprises a much smaller share. Six in ten millennials and gen Xers are registered to vote, compared to 78% of baby boomers and 89% of silents. The likelihood of voting also increases with age: only one in three millennials are likely voters, compared to three in four silents. Millennials (59%) and gen Xers (56%) are less likely than boomers (69%) and silents (74%) to be at least fairly interested in politics. Notably, baby boomers (36%) make up the biggest share of the state’s likely voters, followed by gen Xers (27%), millennials (24%), and silents (13%).
    • Millennials are more liberal than older Californians and less likely to be Republican.
      Across age groups, millennials are the most likely to say they are very liberal or somewhat liberal (43%, 34% gen X, 32% boomer, 26% silent) and the least likely to call themselves very or somewhat conservative (27%, 36% gen X, 41% boomer, 45% silent). About three in ten in each group consider themselves to be politically moderate. Across groups, at least four in ten registered voters are Democrats, with Republican registration more common among older voters (18% millennial, 25% gen X, 31% boomer, 41% silent). The share of registered independents (also known as “decline to state” or “no party preference” voters) decreases with age (30% millennial, 28% gen X, 20% boomer, 12% silent).
    • Millennials are more likely to prefer paying higher taxes for more government services.
      Six in ten millennials would prefer paying higher taxes for a state government that provides more services, compared to half or fewer older adults (50% gen X, 48% boomer, 40% silent). Nearly three in four millennials and gen Xers favor a state single-payer health care system, though fewer than half (47% millennial, 45% gen X) would be in favor if it meant raising taxes. (About half of millennials, gen Xers, and boomers view the Affordable Care Act favorably.) Solid majorities of millennials (68%) and gen Xers (63%) say the state government should do more to reduce the gap between rich and poor in California. Fewer older adults say the government should do more to reduce the gap, and fewer support single-payer.
    • Most millennials want the state to set its own course on climate change.
      Millennials (78%) and gen Xers (75%) are most likely to oppose the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement (65% boomers, 55% silents). Seven in ten millennials say global warming is a very serious threat to California’s future economy and quality of life, and eight in ten favor SB 32’s greenhouse gas emission-reduction goal. Across groups, millennials are most likely to favor California making its own policies—separate from the federal government—to address global warming (71%). President Trump’s job approval is lowest among millennials: in our 2017 surveys, 21% approve (27% gen X, 33% boomer, 43% silent).
    • There is a generational divide in household income, education, and homeownership.
      Millennials (56%) are more likely than others to be in the lowest category of income (less than $40,000/year). Younger Californians (25%) are slightly less likely than gen Xers or baby boomers (31% each) to have a college degree, and they are similar to silents in this area (28%). Homeownership increases sharply across generational groups (23% millennial, 47% gen X, 68% boomer, 80% silent).
    • Millennials are more likely to be non-white.
      Latinos outnumber whites among millennials (41% to 29%) and gen Xers (42% to 37%), while whites outnumber Latinos among baby boomers (59% to 24%) and silents (71% to 15%). Asian Americans tend to be younger—they account for 22% of millennials and fewer than one in ten boomers (8%) or silents (7%). The proportion of African Americans is similar across age groups. Similar proportions of millennials (33%) and boomers (29%) are immigrants, while gen Xers (48%) and silents (19%) are the most and least likely, respectively, to be immigrants.

Millennials and California politics

table - Millennials and California politics

SOURCES: Eight PPIC Statewide Surveys from September 2016 to July 2017, including 13,645 adults and 8,528 likely voters.

NOTE: There is no prevailing consensus among researchers concerning the definitions for each of these generational groups. Our definitions are informed by the US Census Bureau and are as follows: millennial (ages 18–35), generation X (ages 36–52), baby boomer (ages 53–71), and the silent generation (ages 72–89).


Sources: Eight PPIC Statewide Surveys from September 2016 to July 2017, including 13,645 adults and 8,528 likely voters.

Related Content

California Voter and Party Profiles
California’s Likely Voters
California’s Independent Voters
Race and Voting in California

Supported with funding from the California Endowment


Mark BaldassareMark Baldassare
President and Chief Executive Officer
Dean BonnerDean Bonner
Associate Survey Director
Staffphoto KordusDavid Kordus
Staffphoto LopesLunna Lopes
Research Associate
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