By MELODY CHAN
Jacqueline Brettschneider, a 21-year-old Marine Park resident, reached out to her friends ahead of the Nov. 8 election and reminded them to vote.
To convince those who were reluctant to vote, she warned them about the possibility that Donald Trump might win.
“I’m going to wake you up to vote,” she says she told one friend. “No way am I having Trump in the White House.”
On the morning of Election Day, she sent out reminders again through text messaging because she thought Hillary Clinton had a better chance to win if her friends voted.
“It’s super important that young people vote,” she said.
Brettschneider is among those who believe young voters, ages 18 to 29, impacted the election’s results. Although the race came down to Clinton and Trump, nearly 1 in 10 young voters voted for third-party candidates or wrote in their own candidate, according to the Brookings Institution. In addition, this age bracket is known for its low turnout.
“Relatively low voter turnout is kind of an ongoing issue for young voters,” said Alexander Reichl, a professor in the political science department at Queens College.
This year, an estimated 24 million people under the age of 29 voted in the general election, according to NPR.org. The young voters made up one-fifth of the electorate.
Yet, there are 69.2 million eligible voters in the 18-to-34-year-old group. As the youngest members of the Millennial generation turned 18 to vote in this year’s election, the bloc is now comparable in size to the estimated 69.7 million Baby Boomer voters in the United States. Thus, it is often said that Millennials have the ability to impact the result of the election.
“There were some debates about voting for principals versus voting for what was more practical,” Reichl said. “But some people just couldn’t stomach Clinton. There are different attitudes on why and how you should vote” between older and younger voters .
Turnout is a significant factor in understanding the clout of the Millennial vote. When Millennials had a record-breaking 50 percent turnout in the 2008 election, they were surpassed by more than 60 percent turnout among Generation X voters, ages 36 to 51, and 70 percent of Baby Boomers.
The turnout rate is even lower among younger those aged 18 to 24. Only 38 percent cast a vote for president in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Vivian Mok, 22, of Bensonhurst, believes Millennials have the power to impact elections if they try.
“Millennials have a greater voice because they are more tech savvy and annoyingly more persistent,” Mok said. “They have a louder voice and the ability to spread the words further… as long as they’re not too lazy to do so.”
However, Kenneth Sherrill, a professor emeritus who taught at Hunter College in the political science department, said, “Voting is something of a habit and people take a while to develop the habit.”
Moreover, he said the low turnout can be the result of “less inspiring” candidates.
This year, 55 percent of young voters, ages 18 to 29, voted for Hillary Clinton, according to the exit polls conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool.
While Clinton beat Trump in a landslide among young adults, with a 55 percent to 37 percent margin, she received fewer votes than President Barack Obama did in the 2008 and 2012 presidential election. Obama had a 60 percent–36 percent advantage over opponent Mitt Romney in 2012 and in 2008, he had a 66 percent–32 percent over opponent John McCain.
Even during the Democratic primary in 2008, Millennial voters preferred Obama over Clinton by a margin of 58 percent to 38 percent, according to exit polls. Clinton also lost the Millennial votes to Bernie Sanders during this year’s Democratic primary, 83 percent to 16 percent.
“Obama and Bernie come across as leaders who wanted a better life for everyone while Clinton seems more like a politician who will sway whichever way to get her more votes,” said Paige Chen, 22, of Bensonhurst, who did not vote in the primary election.
“I honestly believed Bernie Sanders would’ve won without my vote,” she said. “However, once I learned he was no longer a candidate, I became desperate for Hillary to win.”
Chen said she “learned to always vote, despite how worthless one vote can seem, hopefully others have learned the same lesson and not take their rights for granted, as well as, learn that we failed as a country because we failed to do our part as individuals.”
Meanwhile, one-third of young voters supported Trump. The number exceeded what pre-election polls suggested. Still, it was the fourth-lowest turnout by the group for a GOP nominee since 1972, according to The Brookings Institution.
It also reported 32 percent of Trump’s young supporters were excited about having him as a president while only 18 percent of Clinton’s expressed excitement.
Jessica Peru, 26, of Flatbush, voted for Trump.
“He is the best!” she said. “Being nice doesn’t take you anywhere in life. We need someone strict like Donald.”
This year, there was an obvious decline in Democratic advantage among the youngest voters, under the age of 29.
Chen said people who voted for third-party candidates or wrote in their own votes simply negated or wasted their own efforts because they should have known it came down to Clinton and Trump.
“There were some debates about voting for principals versus voting for what was more practical,” Reichl said. “But some people just couldn’t stomach Clinton. There are different attitudes on why and how you should vote” [between older and younger voters .
“Millennials were either not voting or voting in a way that kind of rejected the system all together,” he added.
Wuraola Sonubi, 21, of East New York, said he didn’t vote this election because he didn’t like any of the candidates.
“The kinds of patterns that you see now will carry on,” Reichl said, “but there are some forces pushing and pulling so we don’t know what will happen down the road until things play out.”
In addition, Sherrill said Clinton’s use of celebrity endorsements don’t matter as much as other things do.
“A celebrity appearance can draw a crowd to a rally because they want to hear a performance or see a celebrity but I’m not sure how much that generated the actual turnout,” he said.
Sanna Chen, 22, of the Lower East Side in Manhatan said celebrity endorsements do not make a difference for her.
“At the end of the day, the celebrities are not the ones fighting for my rights and making political changes,” she said. “I would hope it doesn’t matter for other Millennial as well and that they can make up their mind and choose a candidate base on what they stand for.”
Moreover, she said she did a lot of research on the candidates before she voted and got most of her election news from news media and word of mouth.
“Hopefully those that didn’t vote will understand how much weight their votes had on this election and vote for the next ones,” she added.
Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Depicts 2012 election in Calgary, Canada.