Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The GOP’s Youth-Vote Disaster

In addition to largely focusing only on white voters, the Republican Party has another focus that does not bode well for the future of the party, namely on aging white voters.  Meanwhile, the GOP is seemingly only too happy to sacrifice the interest of younger generations so that they can favor the aging white vote demographic.  Combined, the two focuses are targeted at a shrinking portion of the population which is literally dying off.  A piece in Salon looks at how this is coming home to roost for the GOP.  Here are excerpts:
There’s really quite little in the world of political polling that shouldn’t scare the hell out of Republicans right now. Their presidential candidate, Donald Trump, celebrated his first two weeks of official nominee-dom with an extended and baffling implosion that drove down his numbers nationally, in battleground states and even in some states that a Republican shouldn’t have too much difficulty carrying. As of this writing, he’s hovering around 40 percent in the national polling averages. The recent state-level polling shows Hillary Clinton is eating Trump’s lunch in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Florida. And Trump’s struggling in reliably red states like Georgiaand Arizona. Pretty much everywhere you look, it’s ugly.
But there’s one polling trend in particular that should have Republicans feeling frigid stilettos of panic pricking their necks: Young voters absolutely loathe the uniquely toxic Republican nominee.
Attracting the young ‘uns has been a problem of mounting significance for Republican presidential candidates for some time now.  . . . Newly christened Republican nominee Donald Trump, however, is comically under performing even McCain’s awful showing.
The most recent McClatchy-Marist poll shows Trump running fourth among 18-29 year olds – behind both Green Party nominee Jill Stein and libertarian candidate Gary Johnson – with a miserable 9 percent. Fox News’ latest poll puts Trump’s support among voters under 35 at 23 percent, just ahead of Johnson. He’s at 15 percent with voters under 30 in the latest Economist/YouGov poll. That’s obviously bad news for Trump’s chances in November, but the longer term implications of having a presidential nominee who so effectively repels younger voters could be a big problem for the GOP.
[T]he problem facing the GOP becomes obvious. They’ve already had two consecutive elections marked by massive enthusiasm among younger voters for a Democratic president who is both politically popular and pop-culture savvy. Many of these voters have no memory or strong attachment to the scandals of the Clinton years; the backdrop for their political awakening was the Iraq catastrophe and the economic meltdown of the Bush years. To the extent that they’ve been exposed to Republican governance, it’s been typified by John Boehner’s bungling in the House, Ted Cruz’s shutdown antics and the general dysfunction that has attended the GOP’s hard lurch to the right.
And now, after all that, the Republican standard bearer for the 2016 election is Donald Trump, who is proving especially adept at driving young voters away from the GOP.  With each successive election going back to 2008, the GOP has been alienating younger voters and giving new voters who are just forming their political identities compelling reasons to vote against them. That’s eight solid years of bad first impressions that will reverberate for years to come.
The risk for the Republicans is that they’ve given away an entire generation of voters to the Democrats. Undoing that damage will take a long time, and Republican officials are well aware of how bad this could be for them. The Republican National Committee’s “Growth & Opportunity Project,” commissioned in the aftermath of Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat, spelled it out in stark terms.
“For many of the youngest voters and new 2016 voters, their perception of the two parties was born during the Barack Obama era, and that perception will help determine their worldview moving forward,” it said. “The RNC must more effectively highlight our young leaders and fundamentally change the tone we use to talk about issues and the way we are communicating with voters.”  Instead of doing that, they nominated Donald Trump.  

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