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Millennial voters: They’re involved, they’re independent … and they’re anti-

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

By Sarah Grace Taylor, Studio M staff

As millennials have become more involved in politics, they’ve also become disenchanted with bipartisanship and the 2016 presidential candidates— specifically, Donald Trump.  One of the more prominent millennial-supported Internet campaigns is IDK Not Trump Tho, the brainchild of 33-year-old comedian Dave Ross.

@davetotheross my feed from non-comedians is filled with pics of your idk not trump tho campaign & i swell with pride each time i see it — lauren ashley bishop (@sbellelauren) February 10, 2016
That’s exactly how I feel about the upcoming election… Idk, not Trump tho. — Carmen .✨ (@Ceces_Interlewd) February 6, 2016

IDK Not Trump Tho went from a gag to a widely supported political campaign, symbolizing the political frustration of most millennials.

“See, I’m 33, so I’ve been able to vote in four elections,” Ross said. “(When) Obama won, and I literally partied in the f—— streets. I voted for him because he made a lot of promises. Don’t get me wrong, Obama’s a great president, but he didn’t even come close to making good on most of his promises, because the president just can’t.”

Ross said he felt “dejected” after realizing even the best candidate can’t “pull through” like he or she wants to.

“See, I think all of the Republican candidates are lunatics. And Bernie (Sanders) could never make good on his promises, no matter how much he wants to,” he said. “So even though (IDK Not Trump Tho) was a really dumb joke, if I think about it, it’s exactly how I feel.”

Though Ross admits to being an “extreme lefty,” his views are shared by millennials of different political backgrounds and other comedians as well.

On Sunday, comedian John Oliver tackled Trump on his satirical HBO news show, Last Week Tonight. After delivering a rant about the power of Trump’s name, Oliver called on viewers to set Trump back to his ancestral name, Drumpf, because it sounded more fitting, like “the sound of a morbidly obese pigeon flying into a closed Old Navy.”

At the end of the segment, Oliver asked viewers to visit and order a “Make Donald Drumpf Again” hat, install the “Drumpfinator” for Chrome (which will make all internet results of “Donald Trump” read as “Donald Drumpf”) and tweet with #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain, which was trending locally on Twitter above #Oscars, #LeapDay and #SuperTuesday Sunday night after it aired.

#MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain has made me feel slightly better about the primaries. Slightly — Jay Smith (@JoftheInternet) February 29, 2016

In Tennessee, millennial advocates are taking aim at Trump from both sides of the aisle.

“Why is our generation so proud to be against Trump? Because he makes it easy,” says Middle Tennessee State University College Republicans president Jami Averwater, 21. “I think that millennials are more moderate than we realize. I would say that’s the No. 1 reason that the generation is speaking out against Trump: His ideals are so far radical and so far right wing and so literally and metaphorically loud, that whether you agree with it or not, you are reluctant to listen.”

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 50% of millennials identify as independent, which is more than millennial Democrats and Republicans combined.


The same study also shows a significant increase in independents over the last four generations, the biggest leap being from Generation X to millennials.


Joey Kennedy, 20, president of the MTSU College Democrats, believes that a nonpartisan effort to get millennials involved is working, so he and Averwater work together to reach their “common goal” of a more involved generation.

“College students and women vote less than almost anyone else, and we want to make sure people understand not just what our side thinks, but how important it is to vote,” Kennedy said. “I mean, we don’t agree on political issues, but we agree that it’s important for our generation to get involved and get along.”

“Millennials are getting involved, and I love that,” Averwater added. “Whether it be to support Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, the cycle has the attention of our generation. This is a great sign for the health of future elections.”

“I’m not a big fan (of Trump),” said Tyler Ittel, the student government representative of the College Republicans at Volunteer State Community College. “I’d say it’s because of the way he hasn’t introduced any of his actual plans. … He’s been very vague in his ideas, and he doesn’t have any real political experience.”

He added, “I support working across the aisle.”

Studio M, a project of the College of Media and Entertainment at Middle Tennessee State Universitydesigned to advance journalism excellence, launched in January 2015. The Studio M project is made possible through generous grants and donations from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Tennessean and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.

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