Making Sense Of The Race For The Millennial Vote

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The White House, source: Wikimedia Commons
The White House, source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s been another messy week in the election that never ends, and Friday is bringing us new ridiculousness. If you’re as tired of the tabloid nonsense as we are, then let this act as an oasis as we gather up the data and the issues that matter to young voters.

The Polls

The focus of the campaigns are turning to the battleground states, so new data sets on millennial voters are taking a bit of a backseat at the moment as pollsters parse out what’s going on in the critical contests.

A few things stand out in the data right now.

The first comes from a report from James Carville and Stanley Greenberg’s Democracy Corps in a piece called “The Millennial Strategy.” The poll data referenced there shows that while Hillary Clinton is lagging behind President Obama’s numbers amongst millennials, she’s actually doing better (relative to her opponent) amongst white millennials than Obama did in 2012 (against Mitt Romney.)

Source: Democracy Corps

In terms of absolute numbers, it’s not a slam dunk for Clinton, but can we finally put the “millennials will loose this for Clinton” meme to rest?

Maybe this bit from today’s Quinnipac poll results will help:

American likely voters 18 to 34 years old back Clinton over Trump 48 – 27 percent, with 11 percent for Johnson. Clinton leads 47 – 39 percent among voters 35 to 49 years old. Voters 50 to 64 years old go 48 percent for Trump and 43 percent for Clinton. Voters over 65 years old are split 46 – 46 percent.

Of course, there’s always the chance that folks will just stay home, as a USA Today report from last Friday notes that less than half of millennials surveyed are “definitely” voting in the election. These results, from an ABC News/Washington Post poll, compared that to the 75% of people over 30 who said they’d be showing up.

Just remember: the over 30-set will likely be dead before the under-30, so they don’t even have to live with the consequences of what happens on November 8th as long as millennials do!

Meanwhile, if you want a handle on what the undecided millennial vote is up to, these “five lessons” from a focus group in Philadelphia have some major insight into what’s being weighed.

The Campaigns Stops

Elections are won by firing up get-out-the-vote efforts, and young voters are often a big part of that. Here’s the college campus and youth voter focused events we were able to find.


Tues. Oct 4th

Bill Clinton: Ohio University

First Lady Michelle Obama: North Carolina State University

Bernie Sanders: University of Minnesota

Thurs. Oct 6th

Tim Kaine: Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania

Fri, Oct 7th

Bernie Sanders: Nashua Community College, NH

Bernie Sanders: Keene State College, NH


A search of various web databases and campaign schedules failed to turn up any appearances of the candidates or their surrogates at college campuses this week.

The Reads

A late Friday drop last week could have been a disaster for Clinton, as leaked audio revealed her referring to millennials living in their parents’ basements. The comments, however, wound up being seen as sympathetic to the economic issues young voters face once viewed in context.

Trump is having his own leaked audio problems today, although those comments aren’t about millennials. (Just 51% of the human population, depending on what angle you view them at.)

On Thursday, the pollster for Bernie Sanders’ campaign laid out how he says Clinton can gain traction with millennial voters. The data that we have, however, show that it’s really going to be about motivating people to go to the polls.

So, you know, business as usual.

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