NBC put out a head-to-head poll today (Hillary Clinton vs. various opponents), and while a lot of people are focusing on the fact that she’d lose to [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] and Ben Carson I want to drill down on some of the youth vote aspects. Greg Sargent over at the Washington Post put up some of those crosstabs: he – reluctantly – conceded that Clinton and Rubio were tied at 45 each among 18 to 34 year old voters, while still pointing out that Clinton leads Donald Trump 54/33 and [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] 49/40. But what Sargent did not mention is that all of these numbers represent a serious decline from Barack Obama’s 2012 performance against Mitt Romney in this demographic.
Doing an apples-to-apples comparison is difficult here, given that the Washington Post’s own exit poll numbers for the 2012 election happened to break things down to 18-29 year old voters (Obama over Romney 60/37) and 30-44 (Obama over Romney 52/45). However, Quinnipiac did poll in October of 2012, and did give a breakdown of 18-34 year old voters. They came up with Obama over Romney 62/30 among 18-34 year old voters, and 49/46 among 35-54 year old voters. Under the circumstances, I think that it’s perfectly reasonable to point out that Clinton isn’t just doing horribly against [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ]. She’s doing almost as badly against [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] and under-performing against Donald Trump*.
All of which matters a great deal, because for all of our side’s current worries about the nomination process, the Democrats have an even more pressing one. The Democrats have been acting like Barack Obama’s unique amalgamation of interest groups and sub-demographics represents the floor of their support. The reality? It was actually pretty much their ceiling. And if [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] can compete with Hillary Clinton for the youth vote – and cutting Barack Obama’s lead over Romney in half qualifies as competing, yes – then it’s going to be a very messy general election season for the Democrats.
Yeah, I’m all teared up about that, too.
PS: So why are the younger folks moving away from the Democrats? Beats me. Maybe, after eight years of horrible school lunch programs, they associate “Democrats” with “miserable people who don’t have taste buds, and hate me because I do?” – Don’t laugh, folks. Elections have hinged on less.
*I don’t want to assume that she’s doing as badly against Ben Carson. I don’t have those numbers. It wouldn’t surprise me, though.