An increasing number of prominent Republicans are calling for the party to abandon Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy and redirect resources elsewhere, in order to protect endangered GOP lawmakers and retain control of at least one of the houses of Congress. However, the latest polling data suggests that Republicans in the age of Trump need to be worried about a lot more than just the next election cycle.
Both national and state-level polling indicates that Trump is posting historically awful numbers among young voters. That raises the possibility that for the newest generation of the electorate, particularly those just becoming politically aware, Trump’s highly controversial candidacy could be the lens through which they view the GOP for a long time.
This election has been remarkable in many ways, not least of which is that some states long considered battlegrounds, like Virginia and Pennsylvania, are now trending heavily in favor of Clinton. But even more surprising is that Clinton is competitive in states like Arizona and Georgia.
A CBS-YouGov poll of Georgia released over the weekend shows Clinton trailing 45-41 in a four-way race that includes the Libertarian and Green party candidates. But Trump’s advantage rests wholly on his strong support among voters 45 and older. Among younger voters, he doesn’t fare nearly as well, losing voters aged 30 to 44 by 43-41, and getting destroyed among voters younger than 30 by 29-47.
Things look even worse in Florida. Trump is losing to Clinton 45-40 in the latest CBS-YouGov poll, but again, is faring even worse among the two youngest segments in the survey. Voters between 30 and 44 favor Clinton by a 51-31 margin. Voters younger than 30 favor Clinton 49-27.
The results in New Hampshire were not quite as grim for Trump, at least at first glance. While he loses the state badly overall, 45-36, his share of the youngest cadre of voters is much closer to Clintons, at 38-34 in favor of the Democrat. However, part of the reason appears to be that in a four-way race, Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson both take 10 percent of the vote, pulling disproportionately from Clinton’s total.
The results hold nationally as well, with Clinton leading Trump among young voters by 13.3 percent in the most recent Los Angeles Times poll.
The reason this is a problem for the GOP, as has been noted here before, is that once U.S. voters identify themselves with a particular political party, they tend to stay with that party.
If Trump really is as distasteful to young voters as the most recent polling suggests, that means that GOP insiders currently worrying about the prospect of losing the House and Senate in November should actually have bigger things on their minds -- like losing a whole generation of potential voters.