12 percent of registered Philly millennials actually voted — how bad is that?

Shrug mayor

The results are in: Young people still aren’t voting in Philadelphia.

Despite a booming millennial population, only 12 percent of registered millennials — 38,686 people — turned out to vote in the May mayoral election. To describe this another way, according to the office of City Commissioner Al Schmidt, millennials make up about 32 percent of the total electorate but only 14 percent of people who actually voted.

Or even another way: Registered millennials (age 18-to-34) make up the largest group by far of registered voters. There are 71,000 more registered millennials than people age 35-to-49, 82,000 more than people age 50-to-64 and 140,000 more than people age 65 and up. And yet those respective age groups beat the millennials in voter turnout by about 20,000, 53,000 and 42,000. That’s not good at all. It almost seems impossible.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.37.36 PM

Via the office of City Commissioner Al Schmidt

Is there any reason to be optimistic? Maybe just slightly.

The City Commissioners office didn’t have age group breakdowns for the 2007 mayoral primary election when Billy Penn asked for the data earlier this year so we can’t compare this primary election to the last primary without an incumbent. But we can compare it to the 2011 primary.

Then, about 17,000 millennials voted, representing about 10 percent of the voting electorate. With 38,000 voting this time and about 14 percent of the voting electorate that’s at least an improvement from the last mayor’s race.

Still, the number of 38,000 is about half as much as the number of 18-to-34 year olds who voted in the 2014 gubernatorial/mid-term congressional general election (74,000). That turnout rate for millennials in fall 2014 was about 23 percent.

Philadelphia is no different than anywhere else when it comes to local politics. The Knight Foundation recently released a report on the low voter turnout for local elections among millennials. It found that people in general didn’t care to vote in local elections, with millennials being even worse. Knight didn’t have an exact number but suggested it is less than 20 percent.

The reasons? Millennial respondents told Knight they didn’t think there was enough coverage of local politics and they didn’t understand how local government worked. They also wanted more aspirational messages, framing voting as a way to improve their cities, to push them to vote.

Either way, maybe we should’ve seen this low voter turnout coming.

Thanks for reading all the way

Seems you’re the kind of person who really digs in. Want more? Get an update direct to your inbox each morning, with everything you need to stay on top of Philly news.

Thanks for reading all the way

Been seeing you here a lot lately — seems like you’re the kind of newshound who really digs in. If you value the info we provide, become a member today!

Billy Penn runs on reader support

Like the story above, everything we publish is powered by people like you. If our work helps you learn about Philadelphia, we’d love to count you as a member.

Lock in your support

The article above was published thanks to your support! A monthly membership will help ensure Billy Penn can keep reporting on Philly news.

Spread the love

Billy Penn members like you are the reason our newsroom keeps going. Know someone who might want to support our work? Send them a note — they just might join the local journalism fight.