Posted on July 2, 2018

Democrats Are Losing the Millennial Vote and Need to Change Message

Cas Mudde, The Guardian, June 24, 2018


In the past few months, the liberal media has seen hope in America’s youth. A AP-Norc/MTV Youth Political Pulse poll found that only a minority (33%) of young Americans approve of the way Trump is handling his job of president, while the majority believe that the president is “mentally unfit” (60%), “generally dishonest” (62%) or “a racist” (63%). In line of these findings, Vox triumphantly headlined: “The kids are not all right with Donald Trump.”

Similarly, a Pew Research Center study of the “generational gap in American politics” was met with hopeful coverage. It found, among other things, that millennials have by far the most negative views of Trump, having tumbled from a 64% job approval rating for President Obama in 2009-2010 to a dismal 27% approval of Trump in 2017-2018. It also found that millennials self-identify much less as conservative and much more as liberal than previous generations, supporting progressive stances on economic inequality, global warming, immigration and racial equality.

So it may take liberals by surprise to hear that a recent Reuters/Ipsos mega poll of 16,000 respondents, found that the Democrats are losing ground with millennials. While millennials still prefer the Democratic party over the Republicans, that support is tanking. In just two years, it dropped sharply from 55% to 46%. Meanwhile, their support for Republicans has remained roughly stable in the past two years, falling from 28% to 27%.

The trend is not universal among millennials, however. Reflecting developments within the broader population, there are strong gender and racial differences. {snip}

Today, as many white millennials support the Democrats as the Republicans (each 39%). Just two years ago, Democrats still had a 14% lead over Republicans among white millennials. The trends are even more pronounced among white male millennials. Today, this group favors the Republicans over the Democrats by a staggering 11%. In 2016, Democrats led white male millennials by 12%.

These polls mainly show that millennials are not so different from other Americans. {snip}

Millennials are at best soft Democrats. Many got enthused and mobilized by Barack Obama in 2008 and largely hung around for Obama in 2012 and, even less, Clinton in 2016. But many seem to have had enough. {snip}


{snip} Democrats should link key concerns of millennials, especially economic inequality and cultural openness. This does not mean more, mostly symbolic “identity politics”, but integrating identity into a broader agenda of economic, environmental and social justice – staples of true progressive politics.