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All Education Matters -   August 22, 2011

 

The Author's Hour: Morley Winograd and Mike D. Hais and their Search to Understand Millennials

By Cryn Johannsen

 

Mike D. Hais and Morley Winograd are political scientists who found themselves interested in Millennials. This interest turned into two books, one of which is being published this coming September. Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation is Remaking America is their latest work. Mike and Morley sent me an advance copy last week, and I've already devoured most of it. Their statistics about higher education, as well as the conclusions they draw, are golden. In addition, their take on the Millennial generation has given me a great deal of hope, something that is hard to come by at this juncture in U.S. history.

Besides being two amazing men and superb researchers, who are they exactly? 
Morley Winograd is a Senior Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School’s Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. He served as senior policy advisor to Vice President Al Gore and director of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) from December 1, 1997 until January 20, 2001. 
Mike D. Hais served for a decade as Vice President, Entertainment Research and for more than 22 years overall at Frank N. Magid Associates where he conducted audience research for hundreds of television stations, cable channels, and program producers in nearly all 50 states and more than a dozen foreign countries. Before that, he was a pollster for Democrats in Michigan. In addition, Mike was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Detroit.
[These bios above were copied and truncated. For their full ones, visit here]. 
CCJ: I know a lot of my readers at AEM know who are you two are, but for those who don't know about your new, insightful book on Millennials and so forth, please share a few things about how you came to this project, how long you've know one another, and so forth. Also, what's the title of your forthcoming book?
Mike & Morley: Our new book, Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation is Remaking America (September 2011), continues the work that resulted in the publication of our first book entitled Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics (2008).  Both books flow from our fascination with and optimism about the impact members of the Millennial Generation, Americans born between 1982 and 2003, will have on this country.  We believe that the generational cycle theories of William Strauss and Neil Howe, detailed in their books, Generations (1991) and The Fourth Turning (1997), have enormous powers to both explain US history and to predict what’s ahead for the nation. When we first read those books two decades ago we decided to apply the generational frame work to an arena in which both of us had great interest and experience—politics.   Using Mike’s background in survey research and political polling and the generosity of  his former employer,  Frank N. Magid Associates, the world’s leading news and entertainment market research and consultation firm, we were able to empirically test the validity of Strauss and Howe’s theory using rigorous survey research methodologies. Our success in accurately forecasting the results of the 2008 election in our first book, which was written more than a year before Barack Obama was elected president, clearly bore out the usefulness and accuracy of generational theory in understanding American politics. In our newest book, we use both Magid and Pew Survey Research center data to  predict the trajectory of American life over coming decades in areas such as government and politics,  education and the workplace,  family life and religion, and even  entertainment and sports.   
It all began in the late 1970s when I [Morley] was the Chairperson of the Michigan Democratic Party and I [Mike] was a political science professor at the University of Detroit with an interest in political polling. We met at the HQ of the Michigan Democratic Party on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit and a lifelong friendship and partnership began. Perhaps our first major success as a team was in 1982 when we used polling to devise a strategy based on appealing to moderate ticket splitting voters in Detroit and its suburbs to help elect Jim Blanchard as the first Democratic governor of Michigan in more than two decades. A year later, I [Mike] began a 22+ year career with Magid. Meanwhile, Morley began a journey that took him to the top marketing echelons at AT&T and positions as the head of Al Gore’s reinventing government efforts during the Clinton administration, and the leadership of the Telecom Management program at USC’s Marshall School of Business. We moved to Southern California in the early 1990s and when we both retired about 15 years later, our joint writing career started.

CCJ: I have always had an interest in generational differences, too. It was something I studied when I was working on my Ph.D. at Brown. Of course, I was not carrying out research as a political scientist, but I understand your angle, and it's fascinating. 
What do you think are the most distinct things that define the Millennial Generation?
Mike & Morley: The most distinctive aspect of the Millennial Generation is its strong belief in taking collective action primarily at the local level to solve national problems [my emphasis]. The generation’s unique background leads it to take on challenges by combining pragmatism and idealism.   Like 'civic' generations before them, Millennials are optimistic about the future because they believe they can change what isn’t working and build new institutions that will work better than existing one have.  While many older people focus on the generation’s facility with new technology, particularly social media, they often fail to realize that the Millennial Generation’s focus on sharing and searching for group consensus is creating a brand new way to take on society’s challenges and address them and is, in fact, it’s most important characteristic.
Demographically, Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation in American history. There are now about 95 million Millennials, 10 million more than Baby Boomers and twice as many as Generation X. Forty percent of Millennials are non-white—African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and people of mixed race. About one-quarter of American adults are now Millennials. At the end of this decade, when the youngest Millennials become adults, more than one-third of US adults (36%) will be a Millennial. Any generation with these numbers cannot help but shape American life for decades.
CCJ: Your book tour is beginning soon. What cities will you be visiting? 
Mike & Morley: We wrote both of our books primarily to explain the Millennial Generation to older generations and make them aware of the possibilities and promise of this generation. We are therefore very pleased to be invited to a number of forums in September and October to talk about the book and its message. ... I'm looking forward to meeting Mike and Morley in Galveston in September, and I hope that some of you are able to make it to their talks across the country. 





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