by Kish Rajan
Presidential debates don’t tend to have a tremendous effect on the outcome of elections. They might move the needle a little one way or the other, but people tend to have mentally cast their votes before debate season even begins.
What debates really do is put our nation’s agenda on display. Moderators, chosen from the mainstream media, pose questions about topics they believe are important to the audience (which can be huge). What are we as a nation talking about? What do we care about?
Traditionally, those questions come from the establishment (typically white, middle-aged, male) point of view. Expect to hear lots of questions about foreign policy, immigration, guns and whether the candidates are fit for office.
I’m not saying that those topics aren’t important. They absolutely are. But they aren’t the issues that matter most to one of the biggest voting blocks out there: Millennials.
According to the Pew Research Center there are now about as many Millennial voters (69.2 million) as there are Baby Boomer voters (69.7 million). But the closest a presidential candidate has come to addressing Millennials is Bernie Sanders, who was willing to talk about things like the increasing unaffordability of college education.
For the most part, the press and the candidates seem to see Millennials as their worst stereotype — privileged, spoiled and uninterested. They don’t ask for their take on the issues and they don’t seem to care what they think.
This is a huge mistake. According to polling done by my tech advocacy coalition, CALinnovates, 70% of Millennials plan to vote in the upcoming election and 72% of them say that the next president will have a large impact on their lives.
They believe they have almost as much influence over policy as Generation X, but they don’t see the candidates speaking to their concerns.
Read the full article here.