What generation is the most partisan?


What generation is the most partisan?

Bottom Line: It probably sounds absurd. Heading down the homestretch of this election cycle may make you like most people are more partisan than ever. While those who are loudest likely are among the most partisan, voters generally appear to be trending a different direction this cycle. It’s largely being driven by those who’re among the youngest and/or newest voters. Here’s a look at the percentage of voters who voted split ballots, which are ballots in which a voter votes for candidates from differing political parties in partisan races.

Percentage of split ballots in previous two Presidential election cycles:

  • 2012: 10%
  • 2016: 8%

In fact, 2016 produced a first in American history as it pertained to partisan voting. 2016 was the first year in which every winning Senate candidate matched the political party of the Presidential winner in that state. As it turns out, 2016 may have been the peak of partisanship by the average voter. According to the Pew Research Center, 18% of all voters either have or intend to vote split ballots this year. As mentioned earlier, this is largely due to first and and/or younger voters. Here’s the breakout based on generation.

Percentage of split ballots by generation:

  • Gen Z: 24%
  • Millennial: 18%
  • Gen X: 16%
  • Boomer: 12%
  • Silent Generation: 13%

As you can tell the most partisan generation is the Boomer generation while the least is Generation Z. Perhaps it’s not a surprise that older voters generally become a bit more set in their political voting habits/preferences than younger voters, however the difference could be enough to lead to surprises on Election Day. A lot of attention has been paid to the political party or party ID of first-time voters. If about a quarter of them are voting for candidates of multiple parties however, there could be surprises up and down the ballot in many close elections across the country on Election Day. The youngest voters are those most likely to identify as Democrats – yet they’re also the most likely Democrats to vote for candidates who aren’t Democrats. It’ll be interesting to revisit this story after the election results have rolled in.