Notably, while it may be exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis and the disproportionate health effects being felt by senior citizens, the virus alone does not explain this shift in fortunes. In February, even before the COVID-19 crisis had fully gripped the nation, Quinnipiac showed Trump’s job approval among voters aged 65 and up was only 42%, with 54% disapproving. In March, it had bounced upward to a 48% approval but then fell back down in April to 43% as the crisis continued to unfold.
The story is also playing out in critical places on the 2020 electoral map. In key swing states, the finding that Trump is struggling with seniors led to some jaw-dropping cross tabulations, such as Trump supposedly losing to former Vice President Joe Biden among Michigan seniors by 19 points — the sorts of margins you’d expect to see among Generation Z.
Whether Trump will win a larger share of young voters in 2020 than he did in 2016 remains to be seen. There is some evidence that he will not, that young voters remain turned off by his presidency even as there are signs that some may be underwhelmed by his opponent. Regardless, Republicans should still seek out opportunities where they can to open doors with young voters who are disinclined to give them a second look.