By JANET HOOK – – – –
Young voters favor Hillary Clinton for president over Donald Trump by a landslide margin, a new poll of 18- to 29-year-olds finds, and their interest in any Republican for president has dropped significantly over the last year of campaigning.
The new youth poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics found that when likely voters under 30 were asked about a general election match-up between the two parties’ front-runners, 61% said they would vote for Mrs. Clinton, 25% said Mr. Trump, and 14% were not sure.
The findings underscore how important young voters are to Mrs. Clinton’s coalition, as she tries to maintain the surge of millennial-generation support that propelled President Barack Obama’s election and re-election. It also points to growing trouble Republicans face in wooing millennial voters, who are for the first time in 2016 matching Baby Boomers as a share of the electorate.
Republicans’ disadvantage among young voters is growing.The poll found that 61% of 18- to 29-year-olds said they preferred a Democrat win the 2016 presidential election, 33% preferred a Republican. That 28-point spread is twice as wide as when the Harvard institute polled young people in spring 2015, when the split was 55% for a Democrat and 40% were for a Republican.
“The Republican party is not giving mainstream young Republicans something to believe in,” said John Della Volpe, polling director of the Institute of Politics.
Zach Lustbader, a Harvard senior who helped conduct the poll, said that young people’s negative reaction to Mr. Trump cost the GOP an opportunity to expand its appeal to the generation.
“Donald Trump has completely washed away that opportunity,” said Mr. Lustbader.
Democrats continue to have a large and growing advantage among Hispanic and black young voters, with a 55-point and 78-point edge over Republicans, respectively. But Republicans have even lost their past advantage among white youth, which favored the GOP by a 12-point margin a year ago. Now, whites under 30 are about equally split, with Democrats holding a two point edge.
However, the poll found a surprising weakness for Mrs. Clinton in comparison to her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders. While Mrs. Clinton has tried to appeal strongly to young women with the prospect of being the first female president, the poll found that under-30 women were torn. Asked which candidate would do more to improve women’s lives, women gave the edge to Mr. Sanders, by 30%-26%.
The survey of 3,183 people age 18-29 was conducted by KnowlegePanel between March 18-April 3. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.
The poll is the latest in an ongoing project by the Institute of Politics, part of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, which has been surveying young voters since 2000.