In almost every Midwest battlefield state important to Trump’s re-election, the president performed worse among young voters than in 2016, according to a POLITICO review of state exit polls. Trump gave way to the states of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, two lost states. It has also regressed in Arizona, another critical condition that has escaped.
In several of these states, erosion was significant. In the state of Pennsylvania, President-elect Joe Biden won young voters by 20 points compared to 2016’s 9-point advantage for Hillary Clinton. In Wisconsin, Biden won the state’s youngest voter by 16 points, a dramatic rise from Clinton’s vote. razor-thin lives in 2016 – and a significant boost in a state that Trump lost by just 20,000 votes. Michigan traded four points from 2016 to 2020.
“It’s not about Joe Biden electrifying young people, it’s about not being able to connect with as many young people as we had opportunities to do,” said one of Trump’s allies, who is heavily involved in getting to know conservative youth.
For Trump’s critics, Biden gained ground with young voters because he was his opponent: a divisive politician, with a book of cultural struggles that didn’t revive his energy outside of his base. But the consensus among the president’s campaigners and allies is much less clear. Interviews with more than a dozen people involved in the Trump 2020 operation revealed gaps, annoyance, and a system in which no one made the mistake, but everyone had a scapegoat — from the president himself through the campaign to outside groups like Turning Point USA, Charlie Kirk’s Conservative Campus Organizing Group.
Because of the downturn, the GOP has given little insight into what went wrong with the Millennium and Gen Z voters – especially in a cycle in which Trump grew with other demographics – and there is no clear strategy to prevent Democrats from re-supporting youth in mid-2022 elections. And the Republican Party desperately needs a strategy to reverse the trend that has been struggling for decades to reach out to younger voters.
“The Republican Party has no future if it does not improve its performance among younger voters,” said Michael Steel, GOP strategist and former senior aide to House Speaker John Boehner.
“I’m not a fan of top-down autopsy processes,” Steel added. “But I hope the end of Trump’s presidency is a natural inflection point and it’s time to restart to some extent.”
Some Republican operatives in the 2020 cycle say the GOP will automatically improve as soon as Trump is no longer in office, according to democratically skewed young voters.
They said the president’s suspicious approach to issues such as racial relations, which had become a major cultural milestone this summer, was likely to have given the party support to young conservatives who might have stood on the fence with Trump’s support and are less ideologically rigid than older counterparts. such topics.
For example, a post-election study at Tufts University’s Tisch Civic College found that 60 percent of Trump voters between the ages of 18 and 29 believe racism is a “somewhat or very serious issue,” compared to 52 percent of Trump. Voters over 45 years of age. Similar shortcomings emerged when young Trump voters were asked about the importance of climate change (52 percent said they were “worried” compared to 40 percent of older Trump voters) and their self-proclaimed identity (61 percent said they were conservative compared to 74 percent of older Trump voters). ).
The same party operators also blamed Trump for failing to pinch his message in some cases when he came to a younger audience in the general election.
At a June campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, where the president spoke to hundreds of “Students for Trump” activists, he spoke about 401 (k) pension funds, school choices and stock market profits – issues that resonate more with older investors, retirement planners and parents.
“I think your 401 (k) point doesn’t want someone else to play with them because you’re just at record heights and you put the wrong person in, they’ll be destroyed,” Trump said. a group that probably never dealt with 401 (k).
Others have blamed the Trump campaign, accusing the president’s top aides of outsourcing his youth program to Turning Point Action, the political action group of the Turning Point USA Conservative Campus Group.
Led by 26-year-old founder Charlie Kirk, the group oversaw countless door-knocking and bottom-out efforts in this cycle, and worked with White House senior aides such as senior adviser Jared Kushner to plan events for this president and deputies to the young audience. he claimed. People involved in Kirk’s operation claimed that “Herculean” efforts to increase Trump’s re-election took place without the contribution or resources of the Trump campaign – much to their chagrin in the months leading up to the November 3 election.
But two Trump campaigners who worked closely with Kirk said the campaign had its own youth outreach efforts that went beyond those still in college. These helpers described Turning Point’s messaging as too sycophant to attract young voters who are more in tune with conservatism but still fear Trump himself is affected. Kirk was given a primary address at the National Conference of the Republic in August and is in close contact with the President and some of his adult children.
“It’s a mistake to think that groups operating alone on university campuses will reach young voters outside of college,” one assistant said.
Trump’s other ally did not properly articulate the Turning Point action to address the youth knowledge of the great party presidential campaign, “because it is a relatively new organization with no deeper community ties.”
People close to Kirk rejected these allegations, suggesting that the young activist and his group did everything they could to help the president, accusing the Trump campaign and the Republican National Commission of lacking the organizational skills and resources to get young voters. reach parliament widely. critical 2020 battlefields.
“Instead of trying to make a scapegoat against Turning Point Action, in a completely outside, separate and independent organization still struggling for election integrity, perhaps the campaign should do that,” a person close to Kirk said.
“It gave the president a platform when it was extremely difficult and no one could do it during the campaign,” said another person close to Kirk.
The theme of both campaigns in the cycle was the inability to reach undergraduate students at universities where they are most likely to register to vote and listen to candidates and their deputies.
Due to campus closures related to the Covid-19 epidemic, voter registration and initiatives such as the RNC “Make Campus Again Great” have stalled. Meanwhile, mass size and travel restrictions in many swing states have made it difficult for the Trump campaign to present its candidates to millennial audiences outside of its signature rallies.
“Republicans struggle with shortages when it comes to young voters, so when they lose the ability to do a lot of things that encourage participation with specific age groups, it’s an even bigger challenge,” said one of Trump’s senior advisers.
RNC spokesman Mike Reed said the party’s students and young professional volunteers still managed to knock more than 4.1 million doors in key battlefield states in the last few months of the 2020 cycle, in addition to making nearly 7 million calls to voter households . However, these data did not relate to millennium-specific dissemination.
Eventually, Trump declined with his youth support four years ago in Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and several other states. Only Georgia and Michigan show a slight increase in the number of Trump voters under the age of 29 – from 33 per cent in 2016 to 39 per cent in Georgia this cycle and 34 and 35 per cent in Michigan. But the profits were not enough to get any state into the president’s column.
“In a year, we lost our place where we should have gained space,” Trump’s ally said objectively.