Donald Trump has a greater opportunity to make inroads with young voters in 2016 than previous Republican presidential candidates, a new poll finds.
The poll, conducted through over 100 mobile apps by MobOpinions and VoterLabs, shows the recent political conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties had little effect on those born between 1981 and 1998.
While Hillary Clinton continues to lead among likely voting millennials 37% to 29%, with 21% still saying they are undecided. The numbers translate to a statistically insignificant 2 point net bounce over Donald Trump when compared to pre-convention survey numbers.
When asked “if America’s best days are behind it or ahead of it,” respondents were closely split, with 38% seeing America’s best days ahead, 33% behind and 29% saying they are unsure.
However, likely undecided voters aren’t so sure about the future of the country – 38% of these voters believe America may never live up to it’s past, a margin of 12 points over the 26% who see the future as bright.
The only other voter segments who hold a similar negative view of the future were Trump supporters and white voters. Of supporters of Donald Trump, only 27% see the future as bright. A whopping 49% of Trump supporters and a full 46% of white voters think America’s best days have passed.
“Trump seems to tapping into people who have given up on the American dream and future of America. It suggests a certain gloominess that might explain why they would be comfortable with a political outsider, with little relevant experience, to shake up a system they feel is broken,” said pollster Mitchell Barak of MobOpinions.
Though when forced to choose between only the Democratic and Republican candidates, Mrs. Clinton beats Mr. Trump 60% to 40%, previously undecided voters unsure of the future flock to Trump by an 8 point margin.
If Mr. Trump can win those undecideds who share his supporter’s view of the future, he can bring the race to a dead heat among likely voting millennials.
This would be a huge turnaround from previous elections, where Democratic candidates enjoyed massive advantages with young voters. In 2008, for example, Barack Obama carried the millennial vote by 66 percent — the largest share of the youth vote since 1972.
Four-party polling suggests that Trump still has a steep hill to climb. A recent McClathy-Marist survey put Trump in fourth place with young voters, behind Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Gary Johnson. On the other hand, past elections suggest that voters gravitate away from third-party candidates as voting day gets closer. But who will they gravitate towards?
Trump’s greatest opportunity may lie with former supporters of Bernie Sanders, who dominated the youth vote before he bowed out of the race and endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. A poll last month showed that a whopping 50 percent of millennial Sanders supporters are unprepared to back Clinton, with 13 percent backing Trump and a further 37 percent backing third party candidates.
“At this point in the campaign, Clinton has a clear advantage with 18-35 year olds, but Donald Trump can make great gains if he can connect with disaffected millennials and get them out to the polls,” said Walter Kawecki of VoterLabs.
The survey results suggest that focusing on their respective experience and vision for the nation may be the best way for candidates to sway millennial voters, with over 80% millennial voters preferring this approach to attacks on their opponents.
The representative sample consisted of 601 millennials from across the United States with a 3.5% margin of error. In order to measure to true effect of the conventions, the survey ran the week following the close of Republican and Democratic National Conventions to allow for post-convention bounce equalization.