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Massachusetts Politicians Look For The Millennial Vote As Election Day Nears

Outside a Massachusetts polling place.
Robin Lubbock
Outside a Massachusetts polling place.

Voters in Massachusetts can start casting their ballots on Monday. But is everybody ready?

State House News Service reporter Katie Lannan reports there are groups hoping to boost the political participation rate of Millennials.

But Massachusetts is an old state. The median age of residents in Massachusetts is on the rise. Matt Murphy also of the State House News Service tackles the question of whether millennial-specific messaging has popped up in any of the statewide races.

Matt Murphy, State House News Service: It is an older state, certainly an aging state, as the Baby Boomer generation moves into their retirement years.

But there are a growing number of Millennials here in the legislature -- several seeking office this cycle -- trying to break into the ranks, and we've seen these type of politics try to break through on Beacon Hill.

Democrats -- like Eric Lesser, who represents the western part of the state in the Senate -- have been spearheading these Millennial caucuses, where they try to talk to Millennials and engage on issues important to Millennials, like housing and transportation.

Certainly there's a thread running through the governor's race about access to transportation -- particularly public transportation -- and rail, and how to connect the next generation with the jobs of the future and the cities. Also, to make sure that housing is affordable.

So even if we haven't seen it typically branded as Millennial issues so much in this cycle, here in Massachusetts, these threads are running through all of these campaigns.

Carrie Healy, NEPR: And is the Millennial messaging in the campaigning itself?

That's the other thing. I think we're seeing this nationwide, and maybe to a lesser extent here in Massachusetts, but Democrats in particular, and we've seen in this in places like Georgia too. Instead of trying to appeal to a different set, or bring in a different group of voters that are typically these likely voters, they're trying to recruit younger voters into the process by getting them to register, and making sure they turn out.

We're going to start to see that beginning Monday, as Jay Gonzalez and Senator Warren are kicking off an early voting campaign out of UMass Amherst.

They are trying to make sure that students are participating in the process. And the early voting process -- this is our second go-around here in Massachusetts. This is a great opportunity, they think, to engage young people.

Last week in a debate, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez seized on Governor Charlie Baker's wavering over whether he'll vote for Republican Senate candidate Geoff Diehl. You call this a gaffe. But I think that waver was intentional, to reassure Democrats who are on the fence about this moderate governor. Am I the only one thinking this?

You know, I actually I don't think you're alone on that.

I did write that this was a bit of a gaffe. And I've spoken to some of the governor's people, who think he was just trying during the debate to get his answer just right.

But that speaks a bit to the situation that the governor is in with President Trump being deeply unpopular in Massachusetts. And you say it might have been intentional. The day after the debate, Jay Gonzalez and some of his supporters came out and tried to brand Governor Baker as the type of politician who just sticks his finger into the wind to see which way it's blowing, and that is part of the problem Governor Baker faces.

He is supporting the Republican ticket, but he knows he can read the polls, too. I mean, it appears that Geoff Diehl is likely headed for a big defeat.

Elizabeth Warren is certainly popular. The governor doesn't want to alienate those Democrats and those left-leaning moderates and independents who are inclined to support his campaign.

So he's trying to walk this tightrope, and it may come across as being overtly political. But so far it has seemed to work for him.

Keep up here with Beacon Hill In 5.

Take a look at NEPR's Massachusetts General Election Voter Guide 2018.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.
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