Butler County’s young voters are growing, and parties are taking notice

Butler County is projected to be one of just two dozen Ohio counties that have more people younger than 20 than over 60 by next year’s presidential election, according to a recent report.

For the past two federal elections, Baby Boomers and older generations were not the majority, and the 2018 midterm elections turned a modern high among the three youngest voting-age generations, according to the Pew Research Center.

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“We haven’t seen youth engagement in politics like this in generations,” said Brian Hester, Butler County Democratic Party executive chairman. “This generation of younger voters are the ones who largely grew up post-9/11 with both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as the Great Recession. They are savvy, engaged, and less likely to want to associate themselves with a particular group or label than just about any other group of voters.”

Those younger than 20 outnumbered those older than 60 through 2017 estimates, according to the U.S. Census, as reported by Cleveland.com. While this doesn’t equate to younger generations to out-voting the older generations, national trends say they are.

Generation Z, Millennials and Generation X voters cast a reported 62.2 million votes in 2018, more than 1 million than older generations, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2016, 69.6 million in the younger three generations cast votes, some 2 million more votes than Baby Boomers and older generations, according to the study.

“Together, Gen Z and Millennials reported casting 30.6 million votes, a quarter of the total,” according to the Pew report.

Hester said his party is “focused” on younger voters, including re-establishing a Young Democrats chapter. But Todd Hall, Butler County Republican Party executive chair, said his party is “doing well” recruiting younger voters.

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“In October 2016, we had an overflow crowd when Donald Trump Jr. visited Oxford and masses of young people showed up for President Trump at his local rallies,” Hall said. “We had many young volunteers for Gov. (Mike) DeWine’s campaign last year. Millennials know that the GOP delivers on jobs and the economy. We are actually doing well with younger age turnout and support.”

But Hester said his goal is to let the younger generation lead.

“In the past, youth outreach has been about trying to persuade them to vote or what to do,” he said. “Now, the smart approach is to stay out of their way and be an ally and resource.”

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