Since the establishment of the U.S. two-party system, American politics has been characterized by a persistent pattern of stable electoral results lasting about 40 years interspersed with realignments or makeovers that turn things upside down.
Two underlying driving forces produce all realignments: the coming-of-age of a sizable dynamic generation of young Americans and a major advance in communications technology. While the Baby Boomers and their love of television produced America’s last political makeover in 1968, this year’s election will result in a realignment driven by the political emergence of America's largest generation, the Millennials, born between 1982 and 2003, and their Internet-based social networking technologies.
Almost forty million Millennials will be eligible to vote in November and they currently favor Obama over McCain by about a 2:1 margin. Should that unified attitude hold until election day, their numerical strength would provide Senator Obama more than an eight million vote margin on election day among young voters, a pickup of more than six million votes over the level of support John Kerry’s received in 2004 among this same age group.
The number of Millennials in the electorate will only grow as more of them reach voting age and their presence in the electorate will completely transform how our government is run, and by whom, in this year’s election and for forty more years thereafter.