Sure, projecting a winner in a presidential election a couple of years in advance is a mug’s game. But don’t you know that Hillary Clinton has already won the 2016 contest? It’s just like 2008 all over again: Hillary can’t lose.
Seriously, though, it’s obvious Hillary will win, especially when you look at the way she’s currently trouncing leading Republicans such as Chris Christie and Rand Paul among young voters. The kids love Hillary, goes this line of thinking, and since they decided the 2012 election and will only ever vote Democratic, all we need to do now is reanimate Aretha Franklin, the Eagles, or one of her other mummified favorite performers for the inauguration.
But such triumphalism about Clinton and the Democratic stranglehold on younger voters is premature, to say the least. While there’s no question that the GOP has managed to alienate millennials, there’s every reason to believe that top Democrats are doing just about everything they can to squander their currently commanding advantage.
Over at FiveThirtyEight, Harry Enten averages a bunch of polls taken earlier this year and finds that the former first lady, senator, and secretary of state rolls over Christie on average by 10 points with all voters and a whopping 27 points with “young voters” (ages 18 to 29 or 34, depending on the poll).
For Paul, the shellacking is even worse, with Clinton beating him by 11 points overall and by 28 points with the kids. Enten argues that even though 45 percent of Americans have no idea who Rand Paul is, “it’s not entirely clear Paul’s numbers will drastically improve if young voters learn more about his positions.” Paul and the kids may be on the same side when it comes to pot legalization, privacy, and war, but they seem to be at loggerheads when it comes to immigration, health care, and a host of other issues.
Apart from trying to look two years into the future—where was Barack Obama in 2006? or Bill Clinton in 1990?—the case against Rand Paul is largely irrelevant to Hillary Clinton’s and the Democrats’ own burgeoning youth problem. Thanks to truly epic Republican awfulness on just about every possible issue from gay marriage to foreign affairs to budget-busting, the Dems have indeed been able to take the kids for granted in recent years. But that hasn’t always been the case. Indeed, Republicans as different as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush all managed to win the youth vote. And consider that in 2000, George W. Bush and Al Gore split the 18-29 year old vote, each pulling 48 percent.
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