Date of Award

5-2019

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

First Advisor

Marek Steedman, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Abstract

This thesis operates under the framework of two theories: the realignment theory and the generational theory. I focus on a model of realignment developed by Arthur Paulson which determines three criteria that are necessary for a political realignment to occur: 1.) a new governing coalition, which is 2.) lasting and durable with 3.) a new policy agenda. A realignment can be driven by various factors, one of which being through generational replacement. Generational change can lead to a realignment when a new generation of voters emerges with unique political views that are likely to remain over time and cause the power to shift from one party to another. By using existing sources of survey data, the purpose of this research is to show that 1.) Millennials are a unique generation with distinct experiences and characteristics; and 2.) that the Millennial generation will thus bring about a realignment that meets Paulson’s criteria of a “new and persistent governing coalition, yielding a new policy agenda.” The results of this study confirm that Millennials are distinctly more Democratic with more progressive policy views as result of generational factors that will persist throughout their lifetime and result in an imminent political realignment.

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