Maybe it really is the economy, stupid, as James Carville declared. According to a new polling analysis by Reuters, the rebounding economy and tax cuts have impressed millennials enough to tamp down their enthusiasm for Democrats, if not tilt them back to the GOP. The trend cuts against the conventional wisdom that the GOP might go the way of the dinosaur thanks to an activist youth contingent emerging from a progressive Left more concerned about social justice.
“This shift could potentially impact which party controls Congress after the November election,” Reuters’ correspondent intones. If they actually turn out, it could:
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 30, 2018
Enthusiasm for the Democratic Party is waning among young voters – so-called millennials – as its candidates head into the crucial midterm congressional elections, according to the Reuters/Ipsos national opinion poll.
The online survey of more than 16,000 registered voters ages 18 to 34 shows their support for Democrats over Republicans for Congress slipped by about 9 percentage points over the past two years, to 46 percent overall. And they increasingly say the Republican Party is a better steward of the economy.
Although nearly two of three young voters polled said they do not like Republican President Donald Trump, their distaste for him does not necessarily extend to all Republicans or translate directly into votes for Democratic congressional candidates.
In another interview with Terry Hood, a mid-30s African-American in Baton Rouge, the problem becomes a little more pronounced for Democrats. Hood is no fan of Trump, having voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, but he can certainly see what’s going into his wallet:
“It sounds strange to me to say this about the Republicans, but they’re helping with even the small things,” Hood said in a phone interview. “They’re taking less taxes out of my paycheck. I notice that.”
According to their data, this isn’t just a margin-of-error outlier. Support for Democrats among millennials overall has dropped ten points since the 2016 election, although very little of that has yet translated to support for Republicans — on th etop line, anyyway. Reuters charted the data in this Twitter GIF, which shows the stasis for Republicans on the top line but also the the trend to to the GOP in the demos:
— Reuters Politics (@ReutersPolitics) April 30, 2018
This might explain the drag on the generic congressional ballot seen since the start of the year for Democrats. The impact of those tax cuts may be more significant than just the “crumbs” that Nancy Pelosi & Co decry. It signifies a change in direction that offers direct benefit from a Republican vote to a worker’s wallet, and that may be enough to even distract the activist generation from social-justice jeremiads. It probably doesn’t help that — despite the rhetoric from Pelosi and others opposed to the tax cuts — people aren’t dying in the streets just because people get to keep a little more of their own money.
It’s still too early to tell if this trend will sustain itself for another several months, of course, or whether the converts will be more enthusiastic about voting than the die-hard progressives. Both parties have had serious troubles turning out millennials anyway, which makes shifts in these demos somewhat less impactful than in others. But if Democrats had hoped to lasso millennial energy to a House majority, they may need a Plan B if Reuters’ data proves correct.