Wave 3 of the 2016 Millennial Impact Report examines millennials’ self-identified attitudes and voting intentions, especially during the last three months before Election Day, which may help researchers and reporters across the country explain why so many of us were caught off guard at the results of the nationwide vote.

WASHINGTON DC (January 12, 2017) – Today, Achieve, in partnership with the Case Foundation, released the third wave of research for the pivotal 2016 Millennial Impact Report, which includes a special Post-Election Survey. The survey confirms several developing trends that redefine how millennials engage with social issues and causes they care about.

Most notably, where over three-fourths of millennials believed they could effect positive change in the world during Wave 1 of research (March to May 2016), that number dropped to two-thirds by Wave 3 (September to November 2016).

As millennial respondents’ optimism in effecting positive change continued to decline during Wave 3, their cause engagement also decreased in the areas of volunteering, donating and participating in demonstrations. Decreased level of trust in the government and decreased belief in their ability to affect change may be behind this decline in cause engagement.

In support of these evolving generational trends, the Post-Election Survey results confirmed that millennials voted for Donald Trump because of his business experience and new approach, and for Hillary Clinton because of her political experience and activism for minority groups. Those who chose not to vote did so from a combination of apathy, distrust and dislike.

Highlights from Wave 3 and the Post-Election Survey include:

  • More millennials identified themselves as conservative-leaning (rather than liberal-leaning or neutral) throughout the nine-month research period, and more conservative leaning millennials identified themselves as activists.
  • By the end of Wave 3, both female and male millennials were less engaged in activities related to social issues they cared about with decreases reported in volunteering, donating, and participation in demonstrations.
  • Education remained the number-one cause issue throughout each wave of research before the election. Yet, post-election interviews revealed respondents moved away from this previously reported position, ranking employment, economy and health care before education.
  • Throughout the nine-month study researchers saw a significant disconnect between the number of millennials who reported their support for Donald Trump pre-election, and the candidate they voted for in the election. In Wave 3 (September – November 2016) 21 percent of millennials said they intended to vote for Donald Trump, yet, 39 percent reported they actually did vote for him.

“This was arguably one of the most controversial presidential elections to-date and millennials were at the center of it as the largest voting demographic,” said Derrick Feldmann, Achieve president. “By understanding their evolving mindset toward social causes during a politically charged year, companies and organizations can learn how to better engage and motivate millennials through interest toward causes they believe in.”

“This research comes at a critical moment in time,” said Sheila Herrling, senior vice president of Social Innovation at the Case Foundation. “It offers important insights into millennial voting behavior and, more importantly, into their level of engagement on social causes that undergird our democracy. We look forward to the release of the final report and data set in March, and continued conversation on what motivates this generation of changemakers.”

To learn what comes next for millennial cause engagement, Achieve and the Case Foundation will release a final report including qualitative data to create a more robust illustration of millennials’ cause-related behavior during the 2016 election cycle. This comprehensive report will be released at SXSW in March.

To learn more about the 2016 Millennial Impact Project and view all the reports, including Wave 3 and the Post-Election Survey, please visit: themillennialimpact.com/2016-report.

About the Millennial Impact Project

The Millennial Impact Project is the most comprehensive and trusted study of the millennial generation (born 1980-2000) and their involvement with causes. Since beginning the study in 2009, Achieve continues to lead the national research team in partnership with the Case Foundation. With more than 75,000 participants in its studies, The Millennial Impact Project has helped organizations, corporations and individuals around the world understand the best approaches to cultivate interest and involvement with this generation. themillennialimpact.com

About Achieve

Achieve is a research and marketing agency for causes. We leverage our expertise in research, technology, creative and strategy to understand and inspire your audience – whether current or yet to be discovered – to take action. Learn more about Achieve, our research and cloud-based technology solution, TrustedPartner, at achieveagency.com


Sasha Blaney
Communications Manager
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