Trump and millennials: He might do better than we think

Polls indicate that Donald Trump is going to be crushed by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonShocking summit with Putin caps off Trump’s turbulent Europe trip GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit MORE this November when it comes to millennials, who could make up the nation’s largest voting bloc. But in reality, the GOP nominee may do much better with young voters than we have been led to believe.

A real-time Electoral College tracking map published by Mic shows Clinton dominating among millennials, with Trump ahead in only five states. Given that there are 69 million millennials who are currently eligible to vote, this forecast appears devastating for the GOP.  

But there is one critical factor that most of the polls and tracking maps are not taking into account: voter turnout. 

In the 2008 and 2012 elections, President Obama mobilized minorities, women, and young people. There was even a record turnout of young voters in 2008, when a large majority of them voted for the then-Illinois senator.

Obama came off as a hip, likable, carefree guy who truly cared about the American people. Using his lack of experience in D.C. as a strength, he was able to sell his “Hope and Change” motto. Generally speaking, people were excited to cast their ballots for him.

But Hillary Clinton is no Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaWhy did it take so long for Trump to drain the swamp of Pruitt? President Trump is tougher on Russia in 18 months than Obama in eight years Obama in Kenya for launch of sister’s sports center MORE

Only 33 percent of Clinton’s own supporters claim they are “very enthusiastic” to vote for her, and her millennial backers aren’t any more enthused.

Despite the mainstream media largely glossing over scandals like the Wikileaks dumps, Clinton’s character is still viewed negatively by young supporters. Many view Clinton is an unlikable, untrustworthy liar who will say anything to get elected.

A G.W.U. Battleground poll from last month shows that only 22 percent of millennials think Clinton “says what she believes,” and only 38 percent think she is “honest and trustworthy.”

And the Democratic nominee’s problems get worse when it comes to former supporters of Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersShowtime says Sacha Baron Cohen did not dress as 'disabled veteran' 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser Ocasio-Cortez floating progressive sub-caucus MORE.

Sanders, who was perceived as likable and authentic, was by far the most popular presidential candidate among millennials during the primaries. Before dropping out of the race, he did damage to Clinton when he hammered her for receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars to give speeches to Wall Street, and for flip-flopping on issues like the Keystone Pipeline. He also criticized Clinton’s entanglements with the Clinton Foundation, calling on her to cut ties with the organization altogether.

Sanders eventually endorsed Clinton. But while her campaign may have absorbed most of Sanders’ supporters, it has struggled to absorb their passion. Part of Clinton’s problem is that two-thirds of Sanders’ supporters believe that the primary process was rigged to ensure a Clinton nomination.

Another factor working against Clinton, a longtime DC-insider, is that she’s running at a time when political experience isn’t necessarily seen as an asset. Three in four millennials don’t trust the federal government to do the right thing, and two in three feel the same way about the president. Is it any wonder these voters flocked to Sanders, who labeled himself an “outsider?”  

Here’s the bottom line: Yes, most young people prefer Clinton over Trump. But it takes time and effort to vote, and if millennials aren’t sufficiently energized by Clinton many won’t make it to the polls on November 8.

Something as seemingly insignificant as bad weather on voting day could cause large numbers of Clinton-supporting millennials, who weren’t that jazzed up about her in the first place, to simply stay home.

So where does this leave Trump?

Let’s not kid ourselves: Trump won’t win the youth vote. But thanks to Clinton’s inability to mobilize millennials, he will do much better with this voter bloc than the polls are predicting.

It’s also possible that there’s significant support for Trump among millennials underneath the surface. Many young people are likely embarrassed to express support for the GOP nominee, because he has been painted as a woman-hating, anti-immigrant bigot by the mainstream media. There’s even evidence that suggests some Trump supporters are even too embarrassed it to tell the pollsters.

During the weeks leading up to election day, Trump would be wise to make meaningful attempts to reach out to young voters. It’s time for Trump to stop being on the defense – every minute he talks about his personal scandals is a minute he’s losing.

Instead he must paint a vivid picture of how liberalism has ruined our inner cities and stifled the job market. And he must passionately show how conservative fiscal policies can offer a brighter future to young people from all walks of life.

In 2016, Clinton’s biggest foe is apathy. It’s up to Trump to take advantage of that.  

Kristin Tate is a conservative columnist and author of the book "Government Gone Wild: How D.C. Politicians Are Taking You For a Ride And What You Can Do About It."
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