When Millennials aged 18 to 34 were asked the following question two years ago, “If the election for U.S. Congress were held today, would you vote for the Democratic candidate or the Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in your district where you live?” they replied that they would support the Democratic candidate over the Republican candidate, 55-45. Likewise, in November 2016 they supported Hillary Clinton 55-37 over Donald Trump.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Monday asked the same question of the same cohort but received a far different response: The survey of more than 16,000 registered voters ages 18 to 34 showed their support for the Democrat candidate slipping by a significant nine percentage points, to 46, down from 55 two years ago.
For the Democrats the news is even worse: Two years ago young white voters favored Democrats over Republicans for Congress by a margin of 47 to 33 percent. Today? That gap of 14 points has disappeared entirely, with equal numbers of those polled supporting the candidate for each party. Young white men, in fact, now favor Republicans over Democrats 46 to 37 percent.
The shift is partly due, not unexpectedly, to the improved economy. When asked which party takes better care of the economy, two years ago Republicans received positives from only 20 percent of those surveyed. Now, the GOP receives high marks from 32 percent of them — a 12-point improvement for the Republicans.
Democrats had been counting on Millennial support to continue from 2016, with some forecasters predicting a “blue wave” taking the House back from Republican control in November. What’s more disturbing for the Democrats is the increasing number of those who voted for Democrats in the Reuters/Ipsos poll in 2014 are now telling the pollster that they are turning away, declaring themselves either to be undecided, supporting a third-party candidate, or planning on not voting at all in November.
Reuters said, in typical British understatement, that this shift “presents a potential problem for Democrats” for November, especially since they have “come to count on millennials as a core constituency” and a vital and necessary cog in the machinery gearing up for November.
If the slide away from the Democratic Party continues over the next six months, the “blue wave” prediction is likely to turn more into a hope and a dream. It is even possible that the incumbent party (Republicans), which historically loses seats in the midterm elections, could actually add to its advantage come November.
The election is six months away, and there is still plenty of time for the Democrats to rally and for the Republicans to fumble away their unexpected advantage. But at the moment, concerns that Millennials are going to upend and fritter away the gains made by the Trump administration since inauguration day in January 2017 are diminishing.