Lots Of Hope — And Work Ahead — For Democrats With Millennials

by David de la Fuente

Earlier this month, Generation Forward released its findings from a recent round of surveys with millennial voters — that is, voters under the age of 35. Their findings should give hope to Democrats, as President Trump and Republicans are quite unpopular, but they should also serve as a firm warning that the Democratic brand is on thin ice. Democrats must aggressively target young voters, especially young voters of color, in order to get them to turn out and vote Democratic. Here are the four takeaways from this telling poll that you need to know:

1. Millennials Really Dislike Trump & Republicans

Trump has an upside down approval rating with millennials, regardless of their race. It stands at 10% approve/76% disapprove with African-Americans, 17/67 with Asian-Americans, 12/68 with Latinos, and 29/55 with Whites. Congressional approval is also underwater with Whites reporting the highest rating at 19/52. No racial demographic views the Republican Party favorably either, with only 12% of African-Americans, 16% of Asian Americans, 18% of Latinos, and 33% of Whites having a positive opinion of the Party.

2. Democrats Are More Popular But Still Struggle With Young Whites

A majority of young voters of color view the Democratic Party favorably. Sixty-four percent of African-Americans, 59% of Asian-Americans, and 54% of Latino millennials see the Democratic Party in a positive light. However, that number drops to only 34% among Whites. As GenForward notes, the millennial generation is by far the most diverse in American history, but those who identify as Latino, African-American, or Asian-American still only make up 38% of the cohort. Democrats can get their overall numbers up by working to prove they will fight for young voters of color, but the Party can’t develop a comprehensive majority unless it also boosts its numbers with young Whites.

3. Democrats Lead Generic Ballot But There Are Lots Of Undecideds

The poll also asked millennials whether they intend to vote for a Democrat or a Republican for Congress in 2018, without naming any specific candidates in what’s known as the “generic ballot.” Democrats lead on this generic ballot with millennials across all racial and ethnic groups. Their biggest advantages are with African-Americans and Asian-Americans, where they lead 58% to 5% and 55% to 11%, respectively. The Party also has a respectable 46/12 lead among Latinos. However, among White millennials, Democrats only lead by a 32/28 margin–that’s a mere four points. And the most striking number of all is how many millennials are currently undecided. Between a third and 40% of each demographic group remains undecided or declined to support either party at this point. That is a really big number, and while it leaves room to grow, it also underscores that if Democrats don’t get millennial support closer to what’ seen among older generations, the Party could be in trouble.

4. The Party Needs A Broad Path And Diverse Set Of Leaders

The poll also asked young voters who they thought would be the best leader of the Democratic Party amongst the following four options: Senator Bernie Sanders, former Secretary Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, or someone else. None of these four options hit a majority with any group, though Obama came closest with African-Americans at 49%. “Someone else” ranged from 10% with African-Americans to 34% with Whites. Senator Sanders did best with Latinos, among whom 41% selected him as the ideal leader. Without a single unifying leader to bring Democrats together, it will take a team effort to inspire and drive young people to support the Party. That’s why Democrats need a broad path moving forward that welcomes a diverse set of ideologies into the party.

While the findings of the latest GenForward poll demonstrate a continued advantage for Democrats with younger voters, the Party can’t take them for granted as a monolithic group of long-term reliable Democratic voters. Discontent with Trump and Republicans won’t be a winning strategy for Democrats, and they will need leaders from across the political spectrum to excite this diverse bunch of voters.

David de la Fuente is a Political Analyst at Third Way.

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