In his Talking Points Memo post, “The Most Important Poll You Didn’t See,” Josh Marshall calls attention to an interesting poll that has been underreported by the usual suspects. Marshall reports that.”the Harvard Institute of Politics just released a detailed poll on the opinions of millennial voters, particularly voters between 18 and 29 years of age. The results are a very, very big deal.”
First, millennials map, in a more exaggerated form, the views of the general public on the top candidates. They have very favorable impressions of Bernie Sanders (54/31); fairly unfavorable impressions of Hillary Clinton (37/53) and extremely unfavorable impressions of Donald Trump (17/74.)
So what about Clinton’s problem with millennials? Well, in a race against Donald Trump it basically disappears. Among 18 to 29 year olds, Clinton beats Trump 61% to 25% to 14% undecided/”don’t know”.. .
That’s great news. But digging a little deeper, Marshall illuminates even better prospects for the future of the Democratic Party:
In Spring of 2015, this age group wanted the Democratic party to win the next presidential election by 15 points (55% to 40%). Now, a year later, that spread has increased to 28 points (61% to 32%). Notably, this is irrespective of candidates. It’s Democrat versus Republican. Also for the first time in 5 years the number of self-identified Democrats is higher than self-identified independents. Dem 40%; Indy 36%, GOP 22%.
Take all that together and you come away with pretty clear evidence that over the course of the Democratic primary young voters have become more attached to progressive politics and the Democratic party. One read of this is that the primary process itself – as divisive as it has sometimes seemed – has deepened young voters’ identification with the Democratic party.
None of this means that Democrats can kick back and expect a decent youth turnout. That’s always a dicey proposition. But it does suggest that, with sustained encouragement, this constituency could help secure Democratic control of the white house and congress well into the future.