The Leaflet – Millennial Participation in Local Politics

Published October 16, 2015


Millennial Participation in Local Politics 

According to a recent Governing article, Millennial participation in elections is rapidly declining. Researchers at Oregon’s Portland State University released a report in July assessing patterns among voters in local elections utilizing voting data from four targeted cities – Charlotte, Detroit, Portland, and Saint Paul.

In the report, the researchers found “most people are not voting in local elections.” They also discovered that “only about 30 percent of registered voters cast their ballots for mayor in the course of the study.”

Another conclusion from the report displayed the huge gap in voter-participation rates between younger and older voters. “The odds of a voter aged 65 or older casting a ballot in a mayoral election compared to a voter aged 18–34 were as high as 19 to 1 in the primary and 13.8 to 1 in the general election. Even more distressing, these voting-odds ratios were commonly as high as 20 to 50 to 1 in some of the four cities’ census tracts.”

According to data compiled by The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, there was a record youth voter turnout for the presidential primaries and caucuses in 2008: A shocking 6.5 million citizens under the age of 30 showed up to vote, according to the data. This begs the question, what has changed?

One thing that has changed is that Millennials are diverse. Kyle Bozentko, a contributing writer atGoverning, says, “[A] one-size-fits-all approach to building Millennial engagement simply won’t work anymore. Rather than searching for the silver-bullet app or perfect platform that will attract Millennials to civic life en masse, the key to developing Millennial engagement stems from the axiom that all politics is local. Getting Millennials involved – and keeping them involved – requires new engagement strategies that are tailored both to specific local concerns and to the Millennial population in all of its diversity.”

At Heartland, we are doing our part to educate lawmakers on issues important to Millennials, such as ridesharing apps, Internet sales tax, and occupational licensing. Heartland recently hosted its Emerging Issues Forum in Chicago, Illinois. At the forum, Caleb Bonham, editor-in-chief at, spoke on the importance of Millennial outreach. Bonham’s talk, titled “Connecting with Your Millennial Constituents,” was well received by lawmakers, with many stating that they found the talk “informative and educational.” Heartland’s Emerging Issues Forums bring together elected officials, policy analysts, and government affairs professionals from across the country. It provides lawmakers the chance to hear from leading free-market experts as they explore innovative solutions to the top public policy issues that will face the states in 2016 and beyond. Our next Emerging Issues Forum will be held in Nashville, Tennessee on December 8th. You can find more information about that event here.


Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: West Virginia Sin Taxes and Vaping
West Virginia has become increasingly reliant on revenues from sin taxes on tobacco, alcohol, and gaming, in order to close budget gaps. Governing magazine recently found that Delaware, Nevada, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia relied the most heavily on sin tax revenues as a percentage of total state tax revenues. In response to this problem, the West Virginia Legislature is now discussing changes to the state’s tobacco taxes.

In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans argues sin taxes distort markets, reduce economic competitiveness, and encourage unsustainable increases in government spending while placing an excessive burden on lower-income taxpayers. Glans advises West Virginia legislators to avoid the temptation of sin taxes and to instead focus on tax reforms that lower rates, put dollars back in the pockets of taxpayers, and encourage government efficiency by creating reasonable limits on spending. Read more

Constitutional Reform
Work on Fixing What Washington Broke Begins At Home
Jesse Hathaway, managing editor of Budget & Tax News, writes in Town Hall the growing size of direct liabilities owed by the federal government continues to soar, and the inability of Congress to rein in its irresponsible spending needs to be addressed before another financial crisis emerges. Hathaway argues the Article V mechanism for passing a balanced budget amendment may be the tool state legislators need to enact positive reforms. Read more

Lies, Damned Lies, and Common Core
Only Common Core supporters are surprised that one of the central promises they made isn’t coming true: The New York Times reports states are labeling the same test scores in wildly varying ways despite using the same Common Core tests. In other words, what counts as proficient in Ohio still doesn’t count as proficient in Massachusetts, despite federal officials having coerced both into using the same tests using, in part, the promise of a universal standard. Joy Pullmann, a research fellow at The Heartland Institute, explains how this is not the only Common Core problem not panning out. Read more

Energy & Environment
States, Localities Handling Road Issues Related to Frac Sand Mining
H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of Environment & Climate News, summarizes a new Heartland Institute study that finds states and localities in the Upper Midwest are effectively dealing with cases of excess road deterioration from increased heavy truck traffic related to frac sand mining. The study found local authorities in areas of unusually high traffic from frac sand mining have negotiated road upkeep and maintenance agreements (RUMA) with mine operators. RUMAs have resulted in industrial sand operators spending millions of dollars upgrading and maintaining local and county roadways to meet their needs for transporting industrial sand while providing safe and efficient transportation for other road users. You can find the full studyhere.

Health Care
Heartland Daily Podcast – Dr. Merrill Matthews: Hillary Clinton’s Plan Makes Prescription Drugs More Expensive
In this edition of the Heartland Daily Podcast, Dr. Merrill Matthews, a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation, speaks with Kenneth Artz, former managing editor ofHealth Care News, about Hillary Clinton’s plan to make prescription drugs even more expensive. Clinton announced in September her plan to introduce price controls on prescription drugs, which immediately led to the biotechnology and health care sectors tanking, as investors fled those industries, taking billions of dollars of capital with them. Matthews said, “[B]oth these prescriptions are the wrong tonic for curing what’s wrong with the American health care system.” Read more

From Our Free Market Friends
High Stakes Rules for Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts
The Goldwater Institute released a new opinion article, titled “High Stakes Rules for Nevada’s Education Savings Accounts,” discussing important issues related to Nevada’s new education savings account program. “Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a law that allows every public school child in the state to apply for an education savings account which parents could use to pay for services like those Fit Learning offers,” wrote Jonathan Butcher, education director of the Goldwater Institute. “With an account, the state will deposit approximately $5,000 (more for children from low-income families) in a private bank account that parents can use to buy educational products and services for their children. Parents can pay for online classes and private school tuition, or save for college, along with purchasing tutoring services, among other potential uses.” Read more




The October issue of 
School Reform News reports the Institute for Justice is representing five families who support the newly enacted Nevada Education Savings Account program, which is being challenged by lawsuits filed by special-interest groups. Attorney Tim Keller, who is representing the families, said the lawsuits were not a surprise, but he believes the constitutionality of the program will be affirmed. “No government official is using a single dollar to fund or further any sectarian or religious purpose,” he said. “Not one dollar is preordained for any particular use other than education.”

Budget & Tax News

Environment & Climate News

Health Care News