New demographic information indicates Republican politicians like President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) will have a harder time winning elections in 2020. The GOP’s aging electoral base is dying off fast.
Millennials (persons aged 22 to 37) will overtake Baby Boomers (those aged 54 to 72) as America’s largest living generation, the Pew Research Center calculated. The number of Boomers in the USA is expected to drop to 71 million in 2019 while the number of Millennials is projected to grow to 73 million.
To add to Republicans’ woes Millennials are about to become the largest generation in the electorate, the Pew Research Center projected. All the 73 million Millennials, the youngest of whom were born in 1996, are old enough to vote.
This might be very problematic for Trump; who won 37% of the Millennial vote in 2016, The Brookings Institution reported. To make matters worse an unpopular lackluster Democrat; whom many Millennials despised, Hillary Clinton won 55% of that generation’s vote. Note these numbers are questionable because they cover only those under 29.
To make matters worse only 27% of Millennials approved of Trump’s job performance, the Pew Research Center estimated. Around 65% of Millennials disapproved of the President.
Why Republicans Will need more Millennial Voters
If Trump wants to win reelection he will have to increase his level of support among Millennials.
Trump may not have to increase support among Millennial voters greatly because margins of victory in many US election are narrow. Trump carried Michigan by just 10,704 votes, The New York Times calculated. The narrow margins exist because of America’s winner take all electoral system which gives the candidate with the largest majority all of a state’s Electoral College votes.
The reverse of this argument is also true all a Democrat may need to do to carry states like Michigan in 2020 is drive a few thousand more Millennials to the polls which is usually not hard. Both parties would be well-advised to redirect resources from Baby Boomers to Millennials.
The Millennial Vote is growing
There are some factors that will help Republicans here, including the fact that Millennials are far likely to vote than Boomers.
Around 68.7% of Boomers went to the polls in 2016, only 49.4% of Millennials voted in 2016, the Pew Research Center reported. Pew did uncover one trend that bodes ill for the GOP, the percentage of Millennial voters is increasing while the rate of Baby Boomers voting is falling.
The percentages of Millennials who voted increased by 3% between 2012 and 2016, Pew estimated. Meanwhile, the percentage of Boomers that voted fell slightly from 68.9% to 68.7%.
Such small changes might be enough to shift states like Michigan from Red to Blue. It might help Trump, who is a master at mobilizing small numbers of passionate voters.
Why the 2020 Election is likely to be Very Different than 2016
The demographic data indicate that the 2020 election will be a very different ball game at least demographically. The majority of the electorate will be made up of voters under 50 with very different values.
Voter mobilization will be the key to victory, especially with Millennials. The challenge for Democrats will be getting the Millennials, Generation Xers (those between 38 and 54) and Generation Z (those born after 1996) to go to the polls. Republicans’ challenge will be to keep those groups away from the polls.
This means we are likely to see more voter suppression efforts aimed at younger voters such as ID requirements. It also means there will be more Democratic efforts to make voter registration easier. An example of such efforts is Washington State’s automatic voter registration law and mail-in voting.
Some Wild Cards
There are many wild-card factors that can skew the 2020 election including a decision by Trump not to run which is a strong possibility. My guess is that the president himself has not made up his mind about reelection.
Trump bowing out would be problematic because the president has a small but passionate following among some Millennials. A major problem Republicans face is that there is that the Donald has no obvious heir apparent. There simply is no other figure with his appeal or profile in the GOP.
Also affecting the vote would be a successful primary challenge to Trump, something that is likely given his low approval ratings. Historically presidents that faced a strong primary challenge; Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas) in 1968, Jimmy Carter (D-Georgia) in 1980, and George H.W. Bush (R-Texas) in 1992, dropped out or went down in defeat in November.
Is the Electorate Leaning Left
A development that might help both Trump and Democrats is an electorate that favors an expansion of the Great American Welfare State.
Around 65% of Americans think the government does not provide enough help for older people, data from a January 10 to 15 Pew Research Poll indicates. The same poll found that 62% of Americans though the government does not do enough for the poor.
Most Americans, around 61%, believed the government does not do enough the middle class, Pew reported. A slight majority; around 51%, felt the government was not doing enough for younger people. Such figures skew along generational lines too, around 58% of Americans under 50 felt government does not do enough for younger people.
This means most of the electorate is predisposed to the expansion of government benefits. Such data should make Republicans like outgoing U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) rethink their policy of benefit cuts. Only 13% of Americans thought the government provided too much help. Their position is distinctly a minority one.
Most Americans Favor Social Security Expansion
One figure the GOP should pay attention is this one; around 58% of Republicans felt the government does not enough for older people.
That means there is strong support for Social Security expansion. American views on this issue are fairly constant; around 65% of those under 50 and 66% over 50 felt the government did not do enough for older people.
More tellingly only a tiny minority of Americans felt the government was doing too much for older people. Only 5% of older people, 4% of the middle class, 15% of poor people and 13% of younger felt the government was doing too much for older people. Although 65% of wealthy people felt the government was doing too much for older people.
These numbers indicate voters are predisposed to Social Security expansion. One has to wonder which candidate will make it the center of his or her platform?