(CN) – Baby boomers have dominated U.S. politics for decades but their reign may be coming to an end, according to a Pew Research Center analysis released Monday which found that older Americans are no longer the majority of voters in presidential elections.
In an analysis of Census Bureau data, Pew researchers found that millennials and Generation Xers – people ages 18 to 51 – cast 69.6 million votes in the 2016 general election, a slight majority of the 137.5 million total votes cast.
Baby boomers — adults born between the 1940s and 1960s — and other older Americans represented less than half of all votes cast in a general election for the first time in decades, according to the Pew analysis.
Baby boomers represented only 35 percent of the votes cast in the 2016 election.
“The shift has occurred as millennials accounted for a growing share of the electorate and as those in the Silent and Greatest Generations aged and died,” Pew senior researcher Richard Fry wrote in the analysis.
The millennial generation is also growing faster than older generations due to immigration, as younger immigrants become naturalized citizens.
“As a result, millennials are likely to be the only adult generation whose number of eligible voters will appreciably increase in the coming years,” Fry said.
Fry reported in another Pew analysis last year that there were an estimated 69.2 millennials – adults between the ages of 18 to 35 – who were U.S. citizens of voting age as of April 2016, a voting block almost equal to the 69.7 million baby boomers in the nation’s electorate.
The 34 million millennial votes cast last November are a steep rise from the 18.4 million votes that generation cast in 2008. But baby boomers can still be counted on more than millennials to get themselves to their polling station — 48.1 million baby boomers voted in 2016.
Gen Xers, people ages 36 to 51 who comprise roughly 25 percent of the voting-eligible population, also turned out to vote in greater numbers last election, according to the Pew analysis. The 35.7 million votes Gen Xers cast in 2016 were the most ever cast by that generation, and 63 percent of Gen X eligible voters reported voting in 2016.
The shifting dominance of generational voting blocs could boost the Democratic Party’s prospects in the 2020 presidential election, especially if millennial turnout improves.
Millennial voters lean to the Democratic Party to a much greater degree than other generations, with 55 percent of all millennials identifying as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents and just 33 percent identifying as Republicans or GOP-leaning independents, according to a Pew study released in March.
Among Generation Xers, 49 percent lean Democratic, compared with 46 percent of boomers.
Millennials also have more liberal positions on immigration reform and marijuana legalization than older generations.