The Kids Are Alright: Millennial Turnout in the 2017 Primary Election in Philadelphia
There was a sense that something was “different” about the 2017 Primary for District Attorney and City Controller in Philadelphia. Sure, overall turnout nearly doubled from 9% in the 2013 Primary to 17% in the 2017 Primary. That in itself is significant because it marks the highest turnout for that election cycle since 2001. It doesn’t, however, answer the question of WHO turned out. So, we started digging through the data and what we found was remarkable.
Millennial turnout in the 2017 Primary increased by an astonishing 279% over the 2013 Primary. No age cohort increased at anywhere near the same rate. As a result, the total “vote share” (i.e., the slice of the pie chart that indicates the percent of votes cast by each age cohort relative to each other) attributable to millennial voters doubled, from 10% in 2013 to nearly 20% in 2017. This increase is encouraging because previous election results show that younger voters tend to show up and vote in national elections, but tend not to participate in municipal elections. In 2013, for example, Millennial turnout in Philadelphia was an appalling 3%. Not this time.
Before we get too excited about putting a C+ report card up on the refrigerator, we should acknowledge that there is a lot of room for improvement. The Millennial age cohort still lags behind all others, even in national elections. But thanks to the hard work of groups like Philly Set Go and others, it appears that Millennials have begun to close the gap. At long last, there is reason for optimism.