If you want millennials to vote for you, here’s what you need to understand | Katrina Jorgensen

We are the biggest voting bloc in the United States today, and we want to be heard

If youre operating for office in 2016, its time to get serious about reaching millennials. As a down ballot candidate you cant depend on your presidential nominee to bring in younger voters in fact, both candidates has appeared to be driving them away.

Politicians could afford to ignore millennials 10 years ago. Young voters historically have low turnout rates and campaign strategists prefer to focus on the people who will show up to the polls. But now, millennials have pushed out baby boomers to become the largest single voting bloc in the US.

Thats why you simply cant hold alienating young Americans if you want to get elected. It might not hurt you this election cycle but if you dont find a way to connect with this demographic, eventually they will run you out of office.

Barack Obama benefited from an unprecedented turnout among millennial voters in 2008. Beyond being a history-making nominee, Obama talked about issues young voters care about. Then Senator Obama brought into the forefront things like unemployment( remember how millennials took the brunt of the recession) and government transparency. His failure to follow through on some of those issues contributed in part to the exuberance gap of 2012.

Who else has resonated strongly with twentysomethings? You dont have to look farther than this past primary cycle. Senator Bernie Sanders connected with young voters in a way no one else has this year. Sanders spoke about a number of ache phases that millennials are feeling, including student indebtednes, under-employment and a government they believe serves interests instead of people.

That doesnt mean that legislators need to embrace the democratic socialist solutions that the Vermont senator championed. But it does demonstrate that millennials are just waiting for a politician to speak up about their own problems they face on a daily basis.

At the very least, candidates need to make an effort to address these very real and growing issues. The problems with our education system arent clearing up any time soon. While employment has improved, many millennials continue to lag behind their parents prosperity. They are waiting longer for children, mortgages and even personal purchases, due to under-employment.

Yet winning them over doesnt only entail nailing the big ticket issues. Young voters have a number of defining characteristics that shape their voting habits. These are oftens missed, as there are a lot of fallacies about this generation. For example, the media often labels millennials as selfish. But studies depict a generation focused on household, community and helping others.

The reason they arent a fan of those 9-to-5 corporate jobs? Its not because they are lazies but since they are want to find day for their kids, their charities and their entrepreneurial ideas. Across the board young voters overwhelmingly believe in equality for everyone. And guess what kind of politician these young voters want to represent them? Someone who shares those same values.

Millennials require a reason to show up to the polls: so give them one. Down-ballot candidates have a genuine opportunity to make inroads with this demographic. You can show commitment to the community you represent, or work for greater transparency in local government or break down obstacles for first-time small business owners. Often period state representatives and city council members have more chances to impact these issues than our presidential candidates.

And dont forget to show up. Be present. Not merely in Washington DC, or the nation house, or at your party sessions go to where these voters are. Visit your local shelters where millennials are helping out. Join young professional groups at their social events. Speak at your local chamber of commerce and PTA sessions. Attend a charity operate. You wont find many millennial voters sitting in your offices waiting room: theyre out there in the community making a difference.

Its way past time to start listening to millennials. Before asking for their vote, why not ask what they care about and begin tailoring your focus to that? Its a good idea to start now, because every year this generation will become more likely to show up and election. Dont you want to make sure it will be for you?

Read more: www.theguardian.com