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Clinton Is Crushing Trump Among Younger Voters, And The GOP Is Paying The Price

Trump And GOP Elephant

A  new poll from USA Today and Rock The Vote shows that younger voters are fleeing Donald Trump,  and in turn the Republican Party, in record numbers:

 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is consolidating the support of the Millennials who fueled Bernie Sanders’ challenge during the primaries, a new USA TODAY/Rock the Vote Poll finds, as Republican Donald Trump heads toward the worst showing among younger voters in modern American history.

The survey shows Clinton trouncing Trump 56%-20% among those under 35, though she has failed so far to generate the levels of enthusiasm Sanders did — and the high turn-out that can signal — among Millennials.

“I get worried about the bigoted element of our country, and that they will stick with Trump regardless of his stupidity,” says Elizabeth Krueger, 31, an actress in New York City who was among those surveyed. She supports Clinton. ”She is not going to be a perfect president, but who would be?”

The findings have implications for politics long past the November election. If the trend continues, the Democratic Party will have scored double-digit victories among younger voters in three consecutive elections, the first time that has happened since such data became readily available in 1952. That could shape the political affiliations of the largest generation in American history for years to follow.

In the new survey, half of those under 35 say they identify with or lean toward the Democrats; just 20% identify with or lean toward the Republicans. Seventeen percent are independents, and another 12% either identify with another party or don’t know.

Trump’s weakness among younger voters is unprecedented, lower even than the 32% of the vote that the Gallup Organization calculates Richard Nixon received among 18-to-29-year-old voters in 1972, an era of youthful protests against the Vietnam War.

In 2008 and 2012, overwhelming support among voters under 30 was a crucial part of Barack Obama’s winning coalitions. But that doesn’t reflect long-held partisan preferences. The Gallup analysis shows that as recently as 2000 younger voters split evenly between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, and the GOP’s presidential candidates carried their support by double digits in 1984 and 1988.

In a head-to-head match up with Trump, Clinton gets the support of 56% of voters aged 18-35 while Donald Trump gets 20% of the vote.  When the field is expanded to include four candidates, Clinton gets 50% of the vote, followed by 18% for Trump, 11% for Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein gets 4% meanwhile 10% say they wouldn’t vote and 8% say they don’t know who they’d vote for. Republicans have had problems with younger voters before, of course, and those problems contributed heavily to their losses to Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, and to Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Long before that, Republicans looked on as younger voters flocked to the Democratic Party in the late 60s and early 70s thanks to the Civil Rights and other protest movements of that era, and even the economic downturn of the late 1970s didn’t lead to younger voters flocking to the GOP in large numbers. Nothing that we’ve seen before has been quite as bad as what this and other recent polling has shown regarding younger voters and the Republican Party. To put it bluntly, with Donald Trump at the top of their ticket, the GOP has become poison to younger voters as much as it has become poisonous for African-American and Latino voters.

Michael Gerson comments:

[W]hy is Trump crashing and burning among the young? The 2016 election excludes some explanations. It cannot be that Clinton is making an inspiring, Barack Obama-esque appeal to youthful idealism. During the primaries, Clinton was routinely trounced among the young. In Iowa caucus entrance polling, Bernie Sanders bested Clinton among 17-to-29-year-old Democrats by 84 percent to 14 percent — the previous most laughable showing among the young.

And it cannot be that younger voters are rejecting Trump because he is too socially conservative. He got applause during his convention speech for promising to defend “LGBTQ citizens.” Trump’s nomination represents the advance of gay rights (though not of gay marriage) within the Republican coalition and the marginalization of social issues.

I would venture that Trump’s failure among the young has something to do with his assault on the idea of tolerance, particularly racial and religious tolerance. Younger voters are less likely than other age groups to regard racially inclusive language as “politically correct.” They are less likely to believe in “reverse discrimination” and to embrace anti-immigrant attitudes. And, according to the USA Today/Rock the Vote survey, they were not impressed by the GOP nominee’s convention speech. By more than 2 to 1, younger voters said it made Trump seem less human and accessible.

While Clinton has an ethics problem, Trump has a humanity problem. His combativeness and lack of political polish could be advantages among younger voters. But these are tied to a discrediting lack of empathy. It is one thing to go after “low-energy” Jeb Bush or “Lyin’ ” Ted Cruz; it is another to mock a disabled reporter, stereotype Mexicans as rapists, condemn a judge because of his ethnicity, attack the faith of a grieving Gold Star mother, or call for systematic discrimination against Muslims. These are not violations of political correctness. They are violations of human decency, revealing serious moral impairment.

Here is something for Reince Priebus, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders to consider. At high schools and colleges with Latino or Muslim students, spray-painting “Trump 2016” on a wall or poster is properly taken as a racially charged incident. When white students chant “Trump! Trump!” at a basketball game against a team including minorities, it is properly taken as a racial taunt. Young people understand the logo of the Republican nominee — the very name of the Republican presidential candidate — as conveying a message of exclusion.

Greg Sargent agrees:

there is broad agreement among Never Trump conservatives and Democrats, not just that Trump could be exacerbating an already-existing GOP problem with young voters, but also that it could have untold ramifications for the future. As I’ve reported, Democrats believe Trump may have presented a unique opportunity to deepen the contrast — in the minds of a whole generation of coming-of-age voters — between a GOP branded by Trump’s Fortress America lack of curiosity about the world, his fondness for vicious abusiveness, his relentless appeal to voters’ basest instincts, and his white ethno-nationalism, and a Democratic Party that is embracing culturally and demographically evolving America.

Now, it is always possible that, if Trump loses, the GOP could quickly rebound in 2018 and 2020, without sustaining long term damage from the depredations of Trumpism. But, given what the GOP nominee has proven himself capable of in recent days and weeks, it is striking to contemplate the specific warning that the post-2012 RNC autopsy delivered. “We do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view,” it said, adding that young voters “will continue to tune us out” and that the GOP’s appeal risks “shrinking to its core constituencies only,” if the party does not become more “welcoming and inclusive.”

And that was before Donald Trump took over the party.

Both Gerson and Sargent seem to me to have hit the nail on the head here, and the assessment poses a real problem for Republicans even after the Trump fever has broken. Younger voters were rejecting the Republican Party because its message seemed to reject the kind of social tolerance and acceptance of differences, whether those differences were based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other criteria, that has become second nature to people of their generation. This is something that the GOP’s own autopsy identified in 2013, of course, but next to nothing was done to deal with that perception, or to change policy positions and party messaging to convey a more inclusive message. Instead, the party has become even less inclusive by nominating the most restrictive, xenophobic, and non-inclusive candidate in its history and he in turn has attracted to the party people who harken back to a form of conservatism that people like William F. Buckley Jr and others sought to weed out of the conservative movement when they began to rebuild it in the wake of Barry Goldwater’s historic loss. In many cases, this has included people who are blatantly and openly racist and who have said that Trump’s’ rise has made their venomous ideas more socially acceptable. This is hardly true, of course, and it is the realization of the kind of people Trump has attracted that has led many long-time Republicans to distance themselves from Trump and his campaign, but that is the perception that Trump’s rise, and the fact that the GOP has largely accepted him as their representative threatens to stain the party for years to come.

In the end Republicans have nobody to blame for this but themselves. Notwithstanding the fact that the party recognized in the wake of the 2012 election that it’s failure to attract support from younger voters was a major contributing factor to the party’s losses four years ago, the GOP did next to nothing to actually change in ways that might attract these voters. Instead, the party doubled down on the policy positions that were turning off these groups to begin with, and even continued to include a blank opposing marriage equality in the platform that was passed at the convention that concluded in July. Additionally, the party doubled down on its opposition to significant immigration reform and spent most of the past eight years blocking any effort to either bring much-needed reform to an obviously broken immigration system and failing to show any compassion at all toward people who are here illegally largely because of the conditions in their home countries and their desire to create a better life for their children, just like immigrants of the past. 0On top of all that, they nominated a candidate seemingly guaranteed to turn off the very voters that their post-2012 autopsy said they needed to work better to attract and rejected the candidates such as Marco Rubio who had been pressing the party to change to recognize reality. Now, they’re paying the price.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. pylon says:

    Trump’s promise to defend LGBTQ citizens had almost nothing to do with inclusiveness or not being “socially conservative”. It had everything to do with Muslim bashing. Trump really only wants to defend those citizens to the extent they are attacked by Muslims (actually I believe he’d prefer to just wait and use the opportunity if another attack happened).

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  2. [W]hy is Trump crashing and burning among the young?

    Because his speeches are giving them trauma flashbacks of thanksgiving with their racist uncle?

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  3. grumpy realist says:

    And don’t forget the laddish “hrr hrr wimmens only good when they’re blonde and on their knees giving me a BJ” attitude that Trump projects. Especially with his “I’m going to trade in my wives for younger arm candy as soon as they start mouthing back to me” marital history.

    And now supposedly Ailes is the slob training Trump for the debates? Ick.

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  4. Thor thormussen says:

    Social scientists have found that whichever party is more popular when you turn 18-20 is often* who you wind up voting for over the course of your life. Reagan created a big bloc of republicans in the 80’s, and we’ll still be dealing with them for another couple decades. The clinton years were mixed. People started disliking republicans the last few years of GWB, then youngs got behind Obama, and now if they get behind Hillary, well…

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  5. grumpy realist says:

    Oh frabjous joy.

    A Schilling vs Warren dogfight in Massachusetts? There ain’t enough popcorn in the world for that.

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  6. Pch101 says:

    Notwithstanding the fact that the party recognized in the wake of the 2012 election that its failure to attract support from younger voters was a major contributing factor to the party’s losses four years ago, the GOP did next to nothing to actually change in ways that might attract these voters.

    The GOP can’t do that without alienating a large element of its base.

    If the GOP moves to the center-right and poaches some Democratic voters, then it would have better odds of winning the presidency but it would definitely lose the House.

    When you spend decades courting racists, then this is what you get. Otherwise, the Southern Strategy requires a Reagan-type figure who can speak the language of the base while not giving them much of substance. Essentially, you have to fool the base into believing that it is getting its way while not giving it very much at all. That sort of charade is not easy to maintain over the long haul and was probably doomed to fail.

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  7. humanoid.panda says:

    So, you are telling me 4channers, gamergaters, Milo fans, “ironic” antisemitic meme-makers, and neo-reactionary logorrhea sufferers are not in fact a significant demographic segment?

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  8. Thor thormussen says:

    *(anecdotes =/= data)

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  9. al-Alameda says:

    Additionally, the party doubled down on its opposition to significant immigration reform and spent most of the past eight years blocking any effort to either bring much-needed reform to an obviously broken immigration system and failing to show any compassion at all toward people who are here illegally largely because of the conditions in their home countries and their desire to create a better life for their children, just like immigrants of the past.

    Republicans could not see it through to accept the proposed Rubio-Schumer Immigration Reform Bill . Even though the proposed bill contained rather punitive conditions for transitioning from illegal to legal citizenship (a multiple year wait plus fines) Tea-Legislators thought it a sell out to Schumer … Oh well, another Hispanic outreach effort down the drain.

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  10. Scott says:

    Here in Texas, according to PPP poll, Trump is down 60-35 with the under 45 crowd. And within 6 points overall. These are astounding numbers for Texas.

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  11. Hal_10000 says:

    Younger voters were rejecting the Republican Party because its message seemed to reject the kind of social tolerance and acceptance of differences, whether those differences were based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other criteria, that has become second nature to people of their generation.

    Not just their generation. Other generations are moving away from that too. The acceptance of gay marriage, for example, is increasing across the board for all demographics. In some way, this is what’s feeding Trump: a primal scream against the inevitable.

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  12. Pch101 says:

    @Scott:

    On the other hand, 71% of Trump supporters who responded to the PPP Texas poll believe that a Clinton presidential victory will have been rigged, while 35% of those Trump supporters believe that Obama founded ISIS.

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  13. CSK says:

    @Hal_10000:

    But here’s the interesting thing: The Trumpkins who refused to vote for Romney on the grounds that he was pro-gay and pro-abortion are absolutely fine with the fact that Trump’s position on abortion (or his most recent one; he espoused three different positions in the course of one afternoon) is “leave the laws as they are,” and that Trump hasn’t taken any particular anti-gay or pro-gay position as far as I can determine, though he did say that Caitlyn Jenner would be welcome to use any restroom she wished in Trump Tower.

    The official Trumpkin position is that social issues no longer matter; they can be addressed after the influx of non-northern European immigrants has been ended,

    it’s just further proof that the Trumpkins are just white nationalists. Period.

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  14. Dave D says:

    Younger voters were rejecting the Republican Party because its message seemed to reject the kind of social tolerance and acceptance of differences, whether those differences were based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other criteria, that has become second nature to people of their generation.

    Particularly galling admission that one of the two major parties in America rejects tolerance of people based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other criteria. Pandering to scared white guys worked for a while but not anymore. This is the cross of gold 2.0.

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  15. humanoid.panda says:

    The Trumpkins who refused to vote for Romney on the grounds that he was pro-gay and pro-abortion are absolutely fine with the fact that Trump’s position on abortion (or his most recent one; he espoused three different positions in the course of one afternoon) is “leave the laws as they are,” and that Trump hasn’t taken any particular anti-gay or pro-gay position as far as I can determine, though he did say that Caitlyn Jenner would be welcome to use any restroom she wished in Trump Tower.

    That is actually totally wrong, on two accounts.
    1. There is no evidence that Trump’s voters didn’t vote for Romney: they are, generally speaking, general election voters who didn’t vote in Republican primaries.
    2. If you look at polls from primary period, you will see that Trump’s best segments were self-described moderate and somewhat rebublican voters: hardcore anti-abortion folk voted Cruz, and and to lesser extent Rubio.

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  16. Matt says:

    @humanoid.panda: At one of my jobs Trump has almost no support among the 25 and under. The one person (white dude)to support Trump in prior discussions is now in jail for “a long time”. I haven’t bothered to find out his crime.

    Oddly enough while my facebook feed was full of anti-Obama crap (untrue/stupid beyond words etc) this year only a few are going full on anti-Hillary. Or as they say “Killary” because suddenly Benghazi and emails are all that matter. There’s a very noticeable downtick in anti-democratic posts this election year. Even some of my military hometown friends aren’t commenting at all unlike in the past.

    Every single Trump yard sign I have seen down here is now gone (Texas). All the other Republican signs are still up though. One of my jobs entails a great deal of driving around so I cover at least 1/2 this city every month or so.

    These are very poor signs for Trump. Hopefully this is damaging the GOP brand some. I would like to see the GOP reborn in some viable manner that is far less insane then the current iteration.

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  17. CSK says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    I’m going by what the Trumpkins themselves say. While it’s true I can’t cite, offhand, a statistical back-up, I do believe that Trump’s base lacks any fixed ideology other than xenopobia and racism. These are people who hate Paul Ryan because they believe he wants to flood the country wit brown-skinned people. Nothing else matters to them.

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  18. MarkedMan says:

    I hope that at least some of the fall off is due to the younger voters being disgusted at the Repub penchant for living in a fantasy world, ignoring or attacking inconvenient facts.

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  19. Slugger says:

    Trump supporters don’t say that they disagree with any specific policies or even philophies of the Obama administration. They tell me that Obama has totally destroyed America; Mr. Trump’s slogan is “make America great again.” If you are nineteen, Obama has been President for most of the time that you have been thinking about politics, and this life is all you have ever known. Additionally, you have been exposed to the extravagant hyperbole of the internet which might have inoculated you to the extremes of thought. Finally, a consensual oral sex event might not seem that out of bounds.

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  20. Kylopod says:

    @Thor thormussen: Yes. One of the oldest and most pervasive political myths is that young people tend to be liberal but that they grow more conservative as they get older. Social scientists who have studied the matter have found absolutely no evidence to support this stereotype. Basically, what they found is that most people have their political outlook fixed by the time they’re 30, and some generations are more conservative, others more liberal. Age has little or nothing to do with it.

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  21. Kylopod says:

    @humanoid.panda: I agree, but with a few caveats. A number of prominent Religious Right figures have been strong backers of Trump, such as Jerry Falwell Jr. and Pat Robertson. There is definitely a segment of the Religious Right that isn’t as invested in these issues as they often give the impression. (Robertson also endorsed Rudy Giuliani in 2008.)

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  22. Gustopher says:

    How do you come back from being “the party of Trump”?

    How do you appeal to anyone as a serious political party again, when their first presidential election has a ridiculous novelty candidate?

    The worst thing that could happen to the Republican Party would be for Trump to win, but that’s probably not great for anyone. I mean, Nixon was one thing, but idiot-blowhard plays so much worse than paranoid-man-to-the-left-of-current-Democrats.

    I expect that the Republicans will adopt a rule that the nominee must have been elected to either a federal or statewide office, to rid themselves of the Herman Cains, Ben Carsons and Donald Trumps. It won’t do a thing about the Michelle Bachmanns though.

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  23. Monalae says:

    I think Gerson has a good summation of the two candidates: Clinton has an ethics problem, but Trump has a humanity problem.

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  24. CSK says:

    Well, Trump has just appointed the chair of Breitbart, Steve Bannon, to be his new campaign CEO, and Kellyanne Conway to be his campaign manager. Manafort stays on as campaign chair.

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  25. Moosebreath says:

    @Gustopher:

    “I expect that the Republicans will adopt a rule that the nominee must have been elected to either a federal or statewide office, to rid themselves of the Herman Cains, Ben Carsons and Donald Trumps.”

    Historically, that would have prohibited Eisenhower, Taft, Hoover, Grant, etc. A lot of Presidents, especially Republicans, had the Presidency as their first elected office.

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  26. SKI says:

    @Thor thormussen:

    Social scientists have found that whichever party is more popular when you turn 18-20 is often* who you wind up voting for over the course of your life. Reagan created a big bloc of republicans in the 80’s, and we’ll still be dealing with them for another couple decades.

    This – though for selfish reasons I hope it will be more than a couple decades :-).

    As someone who came of age during the 80’s, I distinctly recall Reagan-Bush easily winning a mock election over Mondale-Ferraro in a Jewish parochial school(!) and my college campus being split politically in ’92, more Clinton than GHWB but not overwhelmingly like it would be today.*

    Of course, the GOP was far less extreme in those days..

    * Interestingly, the biggest Bush backer on campus was Sean Spicer of My Little Pony infamy, which turned a number of people off Bush if I recall correctly…

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  27. Kylopod says:

    @SKI:

    I distinctly recall Reagan-Bush easily winning a mock election over Mondale-Ferraro in a Jewish parochial school

    Mondale still won the Jewish vote overwhelmingly (about two-thirds). Was your school Orthodox? That might explain it, though even in the Orthodox school I attended in the late ’80s and early ’90s, people leaned Democrat. It wasn’t until the mid-’90s that I began to see the massive rightward shift in the political views of Orthodox Jews (though according to at least one poll I saw, they mostly backed Gore-Lieberman in 2000, perhaps in no small part because Lieberman is himself an Orthodox Jew).

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  28. bookdragon says:

    @Monalae: I think a better summation would be: Clinton has an ethics problem, but Trump has an ethics problem and an even bigger humanity problem.

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  29. SKI says:

    @Kylopod:

    Mondale still won the Jewish vote overwhelmingly (about two-thirds). Was your school Orthodox? That might explain it…

    Nominally “Modern Orthodox” but most students families were more Conservative. Very, very few were Shomer Shabbos.

    Remember this is ’84, right in the middle of Reagan’s popularity. The bulk of the Jewish vote was indeed with Mondale but kids in middle school weren’t necessarily reacting to their parents or grandparents (and many of their parents had moved to Reagan in ’80 – mine went for Anderson – out of disgust with Carter) but to the atmosphere of the country. Think of the big TV shows: Dynasty, Dallas, Miami Vice, Family Ties. Greed was good…

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  30. Kylopod says:

    @SKI:

    Nominally “Modern Orthodox” but most students families were more Conservative. Very, very few were Shomer Shabbos.

    That sounds like the school I attended. Maybe it was the same school, albeit at different times.

    and many of their parents had moved to Reagan in ’80 – mine went for Anderson – out of disgust with Carter

    My parents also backed Anderson, but purely as a protest vote against Carter; they’ve voted Democrat in every election since then. Anderson got disproportionate support from Jewish voters–15%, more than twice as high as his showing in the general populace. Carter just barely beat Reagan in the Jewish vote–45% to 39%, the lowest of any Democrat since the birth of exit polls. But it didn’t really signal a general rightward shift among Jews, just a strong dislike for Carter, which also helps explain his loss to Ted Kennedy in the 1980 New York primary.

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  31. Loviatar says:

    @bookdragon:

    Clinton has an ethics problem,

    I know Republicans have claimed for 40+ years that Hillary Clinton has numerous ethical, moral and legal problems, however I give those claims as much credence as the claims of her secret lesbian romances and kill lists. Almost 40 years of rightwing propaganda and smears has skewed the American psyche when it comes to Hillary Clinton, please don’t assist in its continuation.

    We’ll leave that to James Joyner and Doug Mataconis.

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  32. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @humanoid.panda: I’ll go with “no, they don’t” on your question.

    @Thor thormussen: Doesn’t that depend on whose anecdotes they are?

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  33. Thor thormussen says:

    Trump supporters don’t say that they disagree with any specific policies or even philophies of the Obama administration. They tell me that Obama has totally destroyed America;

    that’s what’s funny about listening to David Brooks- and Ron Fournier-types…they always try to warp and deform conservative opposition to Obama into some principled, thoughtful Burkean Blah Blah horseshit (kinda like Mercantilism wankery), when all you have to do is go to the conservative sites like RedState and GatewayPundit and Brietbart etc and read the comments. They don’t like Obama’s policies because he’s a gay muslim atheist prostitute drug addicted revolutionary Black Power tyrant who steals their money and gives it to other lazy darkies. Edmund Burke don’t enter into it.

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  34. bookdragon says:

    @Loviatar: I was being flip, but it’s a fair point.

    How about:

    Clinton has a perception problem on ethics, but Trump has an actual ethics problem and an even bigger humanity problem.

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