Poll: Democrats aren’t passing torch to a new generation

Quick! Other than not being the party of Donald Trump, what does the Democratic Party stand for?

Before you answer, keep in mind that in the last election, most Democrats couldn’t even defend the Affordable Care Act in the face of the Republican strategy to run on executing it. The fact it became popular once the GOP dismantled it suggests a strategy blunder by Democratic strategists.

The “we’re not Trump” strategy didn’t work in ’16 and there’s at least a little evidence that banking on it in ’18 has similar risks, if a new poll by Reuters/Ipsos is any indication.

The online survey of more than 16,000 registered voters ages 18 to 34 shows their support for Democrats over Republicans for Congress slipped by about 9 percentage points over the past two years, to 46 percent overall. And they increasingly say the Republican Party is a better steward of the economy.

Although nearly two of three young voters polled said they do not like Republican President Donald Trump, their distaste for him does not necessarily extend to all Republicans or translate directly into votes for Democratic congressional candidates.

That presents a potential problem for Democrats who have come to count on millennials as a core constituency – and will need all the loyalty they can get to achieve a net gain of 23 seats to capture control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November.

“It sounds strange to me to say this about the Republicans, but they’re helping with even the small things,” Nathan Hood, an African American in Louisiana said about his choice in the poll. “They’re taking less taxes out of my paycheck. I notice that.”

In other words: It’s still the economy, stupid.

Republicans fare poorly in the poll. Only a fraction of millennials overtly favor the GOP. The significance is that that doesn’t mean they’ll vote for Democrats.

It’s the type of sentiment that makes people not vote. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

The generation is split on whether the Democrats or the Republicans are better to run the economy, but two years ago, the generation heavily favored Democrats.

The Democratic National Committee refused to comment to Reuters about the poll, which reveals the party still has a problem figuring out what it’s message is, let alone being able to communicate it.

(h/t: Julia Schrenkler)

  • MrE85

    I know where I stand. I’ll let everyone else figure out where they stand, including the Democratic party.

  • Jerry

    It’s not a good sign when the party refused to defend the only significant legislation they passed on a national scale in recent years, even as signifucant progressive changes were made on the state and local scale.

    • Considering the GOP poisoned the water at the very outset of “Obamacare” and that many people STILL don’t seem to grasp that “Obamacare” and the “ACA” are, in fact, the same thing, I’m not surprised.

      • MrE85

        Poisoning the water may be good politics, but it’s terrible government..

      • Barton

        exactly. Horrible job in not getting a PR response on this right away. INCLUDING many Dems using the term “Obamacare” themselves.

        • Jeff

          Republicans used Obamacare as a pejorative until Obama adopted it. I don’t like it since for many people it’s a shorthand for big government health care which it isn’t.

  • Mike Worcester

    Alright, I’ll wade into this as an older Gen X-er and will do so with the caveat that I in no way have all the answers.

    There is a perception that the national Dem leadership does not have a clue how to connect with people under my age. That the age of their leadership simply is too stuck in the past about how to energize voting groups to their side. I’d say that is true.

    I’d also say that the issues which appeal to those younger voters may not resonate to other voters, such as dealing with the crushing student debt of many younger X-ers and Millennials. Younger voters are up for grabs and they, like their forefathers/mothers, do vote with their wallets (or I suppose their debit cards?). Ensuring long-term economic stability for those who are terrified they will never have that will help motivate those voters.

    Again, just one 50+ year-old’s view on the current state of politics and age.

    • Joseph

      Also we actually care about science, the environment/energy, treating other people who different from us with respect, racial/gender equality, gun control (since its not old people getting shot afterall) and things like that…

  • >>“They’re taking less [sic] taxes out of my paycheck. I notice that.”<<

    The tax tables have changed, that's why. Try using the IRS withholding calculator to see how you fare by the government not taking enough out of your paycheck: the results may surprise you.


    FWIW: My estimated 2018 federal taxes will be going up by about 10%. i hadn't changed ANYTHING from my withholding last year and since the withholding table change, they were taking less out of my paycheck making it APPEAR as though i got a bump in pay.

    I'm just glad I did the calculator and adjusted my withholding to compensate for the almost $3300 shortfall I was looking at next year.

    Edit: I heard the advice to run the numbers on MPR.

    • Veronica

      THAT is exactly the sort of detail that needs to be repeated every single time any story is published about the tax rates. And sadly, the reality will kick people in the butt after the midterms.

      Republicans. The party of smoke and mirrors.

    • Barton

      I did the same thing. Instead of typically getting back a few thousand in refund, my estimate showed I’d owe nearly twice that amount. Adjustments have now been made to payroll deductions. So that “bump” from the “taking less out?” so completely gone and even more is coming out than before.

      • >>So that “bump” from the “taking less out?” so completely gone and even more is coming out than before.<<

        I have experienced the same thing.

        Now I'm taking less home than even 2 years ago.

  • MrE85

    It is worth noting that no one votes for a political party, but for the individual candidates who affiliate themselves with a party, or run as an individual.

    The broad differences between Democrats and Republicans are pretty well defined, in my opinion. Those who claim there is “no difference” between the two probably should not vote at all — they are clearly not paying attention, or understanding what is going on.

    • A little bit of a strawman argument because you converted not standing for something to “thinking there’s no difference.” The two are not the same thing.

      Saying ‘we’re not Donald Trump’ isn’t the same thing as saying who you are.

      • MrE85

        When Democratic (and Republican?) candidates start emerging to run against Trump. I’ll pay attention to what THEY have to say. Until then, I’m not too concerned about Dems not having a easy to understand message to voters besides “not Trump.”

        • Somehow this comment from early 2016 is just showing up. I’ll try to figure out what’s wrong with Disqus. My apologies.

          • MrE85

            (shakes fist at screen)

    • Joseph

      Although people of a certain generation who is significantly more likely to vote (coughelderlycoughcough) do still vote for a party. My grandma is a good example — if the candidate was a literal monkey, if it had the (R) next to it, she would vote for it, because the Party is always right! (*sarcasm on my part*)

      • Exactly. The notion that people don’t vote party line is a total myth.

        Politics is like sports. It only matters to many people what uniform is worn.

        • X.A. Smith

          I almost completely vote the party line, but it’s not like I’m excited about it. I didn’t like voting for Hilary. Unfortunately, she was the best choice.

        • asiljoy

          Part of that is how the party’s whip. I pretty much know if I vote for a Republican, they’re going to vote with the party; they are notorious for going at things in lockstep and I disagree with 80% of that platform. If I vote for a Democrat, I know they’re going to be all over the freaking place in the most frustrating of manners while they take turns stabbing each other in the back. So frankly, I can’t vote for a reasonable sounding R because once they get to DC I know exactly what I’m going to get, but I understand the people who can’t get up the effort to go vote for a Democrat whose primary rallying cry right now is “we’re less corrupt”.

  • David

    In other words: It’s still the economy, stupid.

    With a friendly reminder that the stock market is not the economy.

    • // With a friendly reminder that the stock market is not the economy.

      it is for a lot of people, including retired people and people about to retire on their IRAs.

      • David

        I thought we were talking about millennials/”a new generation”? 🙂

  • MrE85

    I stand corrected. Thanks, I didn’t know that.

  • jon

    Quick! Other than being the party of Donald Trump, what does the Republican Party stand for?

    See we can play the game both ways…
    It’s a problem with the two party system, each party stands for a lot of things.
    Does the GOP stand for pro-life? smaller government? bigger government? business, small or big? name calling?
    Do the dems stand for the environment, social programs, bigger government, unions, education, gun control, also name calling?

    Personally if I were looking for a unifying rally call for the democrats, my choice would be the environment… likely with messaging that tries to avoid terms like climate change and global warming, and focus on things that sportsmen and hunters could also support… it depends on the particular of the race, they might not get those votes because of gun control, or they might have a chance to get those votes, they might do well to point out Trumps reduction of public lands particularly if they are in a district where trump is unpopular, and their opponent is associated with Trump in some fashion… these massive polls often miss the details like that where a campaign will have to focus on them to be successful.

    • // Quick! Other than being the party of Donald Trump, what does the Republican Party stand for?

      Privatizing Social Security
      Ending health care.
      Cutting food stamps.
      Cutting taxes for the wealthy in the belief that there’s a trickle down economy.
      Eliminating regulations.
      Keeping Muslims from certain countries out of the country.

      That was easy. What’s your point again?

      • Joseph

        Don’t forget — ensuring the rich get richer!

      • Postal Customer

        By that list, I’m guessing you are not a Republican. I bet a lot of Republicans could toss out a bunch of things they think Dems stand for — high taxes, high regulation, stealing guns, etc.

        • It has nothing to do with what you’re known for. It’s what you stand for.

          • Postal Customer

            Electorally, I don’t think it matters.

        • Rob

          Watch what people do, or try to do, not what they say. That’s how Bob C. came up with his list. Repubs work to comfort the comfortable and hurt those in need.

          • Actually the list is what they say. Republicans actually ran on killing health care. Democrats didn’t run on saving it.

  • John O.

    Chuck Schumer is 67 years old. Nancy Pelosi is 78(!). IMHO, the Democrats need to start putting some of their younger members into meaningful leadership roles within their respective caucuses, for starters.

    • Jeff

      I don’t think it’s any different than other generations. The elders tend to hang around maybe a little too long. I’d like to see some fresh faces and I’m sure they will move up sooner than later.

      • I think party politics breeds the “it’s not your turn yet” culture that dictates when someone is allowed to emerge on a bigger stage and punishes those who defy the culture.

        • Mike Worcester

          When you think of how much seniority, not necessarily talent or brains (I know, harsh, but it sure seems like that), plays into leadership in Congress, it makes it all the more amazing that a person like former President Obama could rise past that mindset.

    • wjc

      Yep. And all of the older possibilities like Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Clinton (in case she’d like another shot) need to NOT run for president in 2020. I will not support any of the party elders (I’m 62 myself). We need younger voices.

      • John O.


  • Postal Customer

    The only thing that really matters is WHO votes. If Republicans stay home in 2018, they lose. That is what happened to Dems in 2016.

    I didn’t see anything in that poll about which folks are likely to vote, but the enthusiasm gap is large right now. Trump’s approval is still only 40%. All signs point to bad time this November for the GOP, regardless of whether one party can define themselves or not.

  • True. But it’s less about governing than messaging

  • Rob

    Wow. Anyone who’s unclear as to whether Dems or Repubs do a better job regarding the economy either has not been paying attention lo these last several decades, or is under the sway of magical thinking.

  • Duke Powell

    I think the millennials find the vagina hats a bit off-putting.

    • Rob

      Which millennials are you referring to? Female millenials? Male millennials? LGBTQ millennials?

  • Did your taxes go up as well?

    /Mine went up about 10%