Trump’s play for the millennial vote
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is hoping to lure millennial support with his unconventional campaign — and a promise of providing jobs for a generation that’s struggled to enter into the economy.
Trump’s bid to sway younger voters relies heavily on his image as a billionaire businessman. He told The Hill during an interview this week that he is often swarmed by younger voters who beg him for jobs during his campaign rallies and said it’s not uncommon for some supporters to attempt to toss him resumes.
This is, after all, a generation that grew up watching him host NBC’s “The Apprentice,” a show featuring contestants vying for a chance to serve in Trump’s employ.
“I do great with the younger voters,” he boasted. “We have a lot of young people going to the events — millennials being defined as young… I don’t what else to say — there’s something out there. You see it with the crowds.”
Trump reiterated that he’s planning to unveil a student loan proposal, though he wouldn’t give a concrete timeline.
Millennial election polling is relatively scant and turnout is difficult to predict, though younger voters tends to increase in presidential election years.
According to an Oct. 13 Fox News poll, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton beats Trump in voters under 35 years old by a 43 percent to 40 percent margin, despite Trump besting Clinton amongst overall voters.
Trump has excited the conservative base with his immigration proposal. But he’s taken criticism from some Republicans for his more moderate positions on health care (he’s backed a single-payer system in the past) and social issues.
The latter may help to boost his numbers with younger Republicans, who are more likely to support same-sex marriage and even abortion in certain cases.
When asked if the Republican Party needed to evolve on those two issues, Trump answered: “They have to be truthful to themselves.”
“I think the Supreme Court has largely taken the gay marriage out of the equation which is something that I know some Republicans are trying to fight for political reasons,” said Trump, who has said previously that he’s attended a gay wedding.
“But certain issues will with time change and that’s one that’s changed. The lines crossed very much in terms of levels of acceptance. I thought the decision was a bad decision,” Trump continued. “That decision should’ve been left up to the states.”
Pundits are split over Trump’s chances with younger voters.
“Millennials are attracted to personality over substance,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “And there is no question that the Donald is the strongest personality on either side of the aisle.”
Democratic strategist Jim Manley said that he “can’t imagine millennials ever going for Trump in large numbers.”
“As far as I can tell, his base skews older and white — and a helluva lot angrier than most millennials,” Manley said.
Lenny Alvicar, director of client strategy at Targeted Victory, a political consulting firm, said that he doesn’t think millennials will go for Trump in a big way.
But he said that “the good news for The Donald: millennials are not the target audience in Republican Presidential primaries.”
“What’s interesting is, he knows it,” Alvicar said.
Alvicar served as campaign communications director for Rep. Elise Stefanik’s (R-N.Y.) — who became the youngest woman every elected to Congress in 2014.
“Millennials in both political parties are more purpose driven, and less ideological than older generations,” said Alvicar.
“They aren’t interested in the old political divides, or the same old political fights in Washington.”
He said that “to the degree that Donald Trump is a genuine personality and not a typical politician, he has a unique chance to win over more millennials than the political class thinks, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.”
Still, Alvicar suggested Trump might become an ironic modern “millennial” candidate.
“They may not vote for the candidate whose main talking point is, ‘I’m really rich,'” said Alvicar. “But they’d definitely sport one of his ‘Make America Great Again’ hats — ironically, they’re cool and they know it.”