Yesterday, Reuters/IPSOS released a new poll that, if you believe the headlines, could mean trouble for Democrats in the 2018 midterms. The poll is accompanied by a look into the primary for New Hampshire’s First District, where millennials appear wishy-washy as to which candidate to support. Since the youth vote favors Democrats, all this may come as a surprise to some. But if you look at the results closely, it’s not only to be expected, it’s also incomplete.
First, the poll itself:
According to Reuters, support for Democrats overall has dropped among millennials since 2016. Back then, they supported Democrats over their GOP counterparts by 28 points: 55-27. Now that margin has shrunk to 18 points: 46-28, with 26% undecided. White millennial support for Democrats has shrunk from 47% in 2016 to a Democrat-Republican tie at 39% in 2018, with 23% undecided.
Among white men, who leaned Democratic with 48% in 2016, that margin has shrunk to 37%, with 46% of them supporting the GOP, and another 23% undecided. Some might argue this means Millennials aren’t as wedded to the notion of a two-party system; to me it reflects our lack of civic education in our public schools (a topic I covered last December in Banter Magazine), especially given how bad actors use third-party candidates to pit naive Democrats against each other — which occurred this week when a Green Party Congressional candidate was revealed to have interned for the incumbent Republican he sought to challenge.
Many on the far right and left have taken to Twitter to rejoice in this poll’s results, either as a sign that Republicans are winning again, or that millennials are finally catching wise to the Democrats’ errors:
Ya. Don’t. Say.
Meanwhile, the kids are more active than ever and get blamed for not voting. Maybe the medium (rich electeds) is the message. https://t.co/37iU3Jgx2E
— Nomiki Konst 🐴🦄🐴 (@NomikiKonst) April 30, 2018
Blue wave evaporating: Millennials begin ditching Democrats https://t.co/V2S4kTmwoO
— Chuck Woolery (@chuckwoolery) May 1, 2018
But to assume this poll represents Millennials as a whole is faulty, to say the least. As my Mom likes to say, polls are like bikinis — somewhat revealing, but hiding vital information. Besides, it only has one bit of vital information to offer: that white Millennials – especially white, male Millennials – are now, under Trump, more inclined to support Republicans than they were before.
A Circle Exit Poll analysis reveals that 55% of Millennials voted in 2016 – a new record – 37% of whom voted for Trump. Of that overall 37%, 80% were white, and 59% were white males. This has been consistent since 2004 — with the exception of Barack Obama in 2008, no Democratic presidential candidate has won the majority of white Millennials. So as a white, male millennial myself, I’m disappointed in others like me, but I’m not entirely surprised by this turn of events.
Before you lose all hope, however, the Reuters/Ipsos poll and the subsequent story about New Hampshire’s first district omit a critical narrative point when it comes to Millennials. While white Millennials may be more conservative, Millennials are the most diverse generation in history — and diversity favors Democrats.
According to a recent Brookings Institute study, of the 75 million American millennials, 44% identify as people of color. More than half the millennial populations of some of the country’s most diverse states, including California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, and New Jersey. Hispanic/Latino millennials make up nearly 21% of millennials overall, which is double the total Hispanic/Latino population in the United States.
Moreover, while Hillary Clinton may have lost the votes of white millennials, half of her total vote from my generation came from POC: 23% of them black, 21% Latino, and 6% Asian. And lest anyone should jump in and say, “Democrats need a reason for people to vote other than “We’re not Trump!,” 83% of her millennial voters viewed her favorably.
This makes the Reuters/Ipsos poll look more like an outlier than the real McCoy. With limited information on how many POC participated and an over-emphasis on whites, it’s hard to extrapolate much information from it going forward. Moreover, given its focus on New Hampshire’s First District, which is 94% white, it’s a stretch to imagine that all millennials feel the way these undecided, conservative white males do.
Besides, it doesn’t take into account that this year, the Parkland kids are going to the polls, and if they keep doing their job right, they’re going to bring a lot of young people with them who want to send a message to this do-nothing Congress and its lazy President.
Jeremy Fassler is a writer and journalist living in Brooklyn, New York.