A new kind of wave? Millennials in the U.S. Congress

Brittany Anlar & Isabel Kรถhler, Rutgers University

Abstract

The face of politics in the United States has been, albeit slowly, changing over the past two decades. For the first time, in the 116th Congress, The House of Representatives became home to its most ethnically, gender, and age-diverse Congresses yet. In the 115th Congress there were only 5 Millennials in the House of Representatives. This number increased fivefold following the 2018 election, and in the 117th, this number has grown even larger. Using a unique dataset gathered by the Young Elected Leaders Project at Rutgers University, this paper seeks to delve more deeply into the ways in which the Millennial representation in Congress has changed over time: How is the most ethnically diverse generation, Millennials, being descriptively represented in Congress? We compare Millennial candidates and Millennial Congressmember(-Elects) from the Midterms 2018 and the General Election 2020 in terms of overall numbers, ethnicity, and gender. We find that the combination of voting preferences, the competitiveness of the race, and incumbency lead to the increased selection of older, white, male Millennials in Congress. Our paper contributes to intersectional analyses of political representation in legislatures adding age as an important category.