Republican Convention 2016

Donald Trump Will Never Win Millennials. They Like Capitalism Too Much.

As the Republican National Convention winds to a close, Trump's lack of support among young GOPers has never been more obvious.


Richard Ellis / Zuma Press / Newscom

In the wake of the 2012 election, it seemed like there was no possible way for the Republican Party to further alienate the under-30 crowd, 60 percent of which voted for President Obama over Mitt Romney. But that was before the GOP added anti-porn language to its platform, doubled down on its dislike of gay people, turned against trade and immigration, and chose Donald Trump to lead it.

And make no mistake, Trump is uniquely unacceptable to young people—even ones who are otherwise part of the GOP.

"It seems like millennial Republicans support Trump to a lesser degree than the older members of the party," said Nick Allman, a 23-year-old delegate to the Republican National Convention, in an interview with Reason. When asked whether he would vote for Trump in the general election, Allman said he wasn't sure.

Pollster Frank Luntz hashed out the party's millennial problem during a session at the RNC earlier this week. "We have lost [millennials]," he told delegates on Tuesday. "It's not like we are losing. We have lost that generation."

Luntz blamed far-left universities for indoctrinating young people.

"The fact that 58 percent [of millennials] say socialism is the better form of economics, that is the damage of academia," said Luntz, according to The Hill.

Of course, it's not actually true that most millennials support socialism (or even know what it is). A Harvard University poll found just the opposite: 59 percent said they did not support socialism. A 2014 Reason-Rupe poll of millennial attitudes discovered that 64 percent of young people preferred a free economy to a government-managed economy.

So perhaps the problem is not that young people are hostile toward free markets—perhaps the problem is that the Republican Party has embraced a candidate who is hostile to free markets: Donald Trump. It's Trump who hates free market capitalism, not millennials. Luntz told his audience that students are learning about economics from professors whose views align with Bernie Sanders. That's a bad thing, but it's completely hypocritical for the GOP to treat it as such, since Trump himself agrees with Sanders on a host of economic issues. He mentions this at every opportunity in hopes of courting Sanders' supporters. He made it clear once again during his convention speech Thursday night. He vowed to put an end to "job-killing trade dels." In choosing Trump, Republican voters decided that the right person to head their ticket was the one candidate who could run to Hillary Clinton's left on economics.

Young people have correctly balked at this choice. Emily Ekins, a research fellow at the Cato Institute, says that Trump badly underperformed with young voters during the primaries.

"Trump tended to perform on average about 9 points lower among young people compared to seniors," wrote Ekins in an email to Reason. "Cruz did disproportionately better among young people by about 4 points and Rubio did disproportionately better among young people by about 5 points."

If there's a silver-lining for the GOP, it's that the DNC has a similar problem. Young voters within the Democratic Party are also dissatisfied with their candidate. They wanted Bernie Sanders, they got Clinton—and older voters forced her on them.

But there are many young Democrats. There are few young Republicans, and there will be even fewer of them within a Republican Party headed by Trump. The millennials whose votes are up for grabs—those who self-identify as non-liberals—are actually most closely identified with libertarianism, a philosophy for which Trump is the antithesis.

It's no wonder then that Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson is doing much, much better among millennials than Trump. Johnson actually draws more support from millennials than any other age group. Johnson is even competitive with Trump among all voters under the age of 45. He gets 20 percent of them, whereas Trump only gets 24.

The Libertarian Party has done what the Republican Party could not. It chose an experienced, likeable two-term governor who embodies fiscal responsibility and social tolerance. The Republican Party chose Trump. The Libertarians chose someone who doesn't come across as regressive on nearly all fronts. The Republican Party chose Trump.

If there's one exception to Trump's awfulness, it's that he's arguably better on social issues than many in the GOP (I say arguably, since Trump's actual beliefs are something of a mystery). But the party has corrected for that. The 2016 GOP platform isn't as anti-gay as it was last election cycle—it's more anti-gay. And it's going to cost the Republicans, says Allman.

"I'll be honest with you, that's a big problem, that one piece of the platform," said Allman. "It's going to push many people away. Particularly young people."

Trump surrogates know this is a losing battle, of course, which is why they have tried so forcefully to pivot on social issues. Milo Yiannopoulos, a gay millennial Trump supporter (they do exist—it's a big country) and writer for Breitbart made the case that gays should desert the Democrats because they aren't interested in protecting gay people from radical Islam. Yiannopoulos was the headline speaker at "Wake Up," a gay conservative party on Tuesday, the purpose of which was to reinvent the GOP as the party that defends gay people's lives (if not their civil rights).

It would be wrong to say that this pitch is completely ineffective. There are pockets of Trump-supporting young people on campus, where leftism is so powerful and oppressive that non-leftist students often make pro-Trump gestures to troll the tyrants. But it isn't clear that the students writing "Trump 2016" in chalk all over campus are actually going to vote for Trump en masse.

Some will, of course. I spoke with one such person at Wake Up.

"I love Trump as a character, and I'm pulling for him in November," said Hunter Swogger, a University of Michigan student. "I think he has a chance to be a disruptive force for good."

Anti-Trump libertarians might even agree. In moving the GOP further away from the policy positions of the millennial generation, Trump has damaged the Republican Party's chances of competing for their votes anytime in the near future—perhaps making the Libertarian Party the only serious competitor to the Democratic Party in the battle for the hearts and minds of the under-30 crowd.

NEXT: Ivanka Trump Suggests Her Father Favors Subsidized Child Care and Mandatory Paid Family Leave

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  1. I thought Trump was pretty good at reaching out to the young people?

    1. But this drives them away:

      “Look, we understood we couldn’t make it illegal to be young or poor or black in the United States, but we could criminalize their common pleasure. We understood that drugs were not the health problem we were making them out to be, but it was such a perfect issue…that we couldn’t resist it.” – John Ehrlichman, White House counsel to President Nixon on the rationale of the War on Drugs.

  2. And that’s one of the several reasons why we’re never seeing another republican president.

    1. So says the 13 year old retard.

    2. No, it’s why Rand Paul will be president in 2020. Also, because of the eye doctor thing an 20/20. It has to happen.

  3. And make no mistake

    About what? an anecdote and some heavily leveraged, generic polling data from mid-primary that says nothing re: the current claims being made?

    Do more of the Don King stuff. that was classier.

    1. Heavily leveraged? “Generic”? Are you just sticking random words together?

    2. Trump is uniquely unacceptable to young people?even ones who are otherwise part of the GOP.

      I do want the stats on this.

      1. Millenials are pro-socialist doesn’t mean they are anti-Trump.

  4. I think I’m finally getting that pony all of you promised me back in 2008.

  5. I disagree, most millennials are smarter than Robby X

  6. The official Republican platform might be relevant if Trump was actually going to follow it. But he isn’t. And most kids aren’t gonna have a fucking clue what the official platform is because that would require actually going and looking for it.

    I suspect a lot of young people just won’t vote. Unless Johnson makes it in the debates. Then they’d vote for him because he’s gonna legalize weed.

    1. I disagree. Young people got the ‘uncool’ vibe from Harper up here in Canada and they put Trudeau in charge. They get the uncool vibe from Trump and they’ll turn out in droves for Clinton.

      1. so Clinton is cool? Hahahahahahahahahaha…….

      2. So yutes vote for whoever is “cool”. So sophisticated. And libertarians have that coolness factor. I mean it’s not like they have to constantly refute the whole “will cause poor people and old people to die” attack.

      3. “turn out in droves for Clinton”
        Do you ever stop saying stupid shit?

      4. The first time Obama ran, there was 51% turnout 29 and under. The second time, it dropped to 46%. Just for shits and giggles, in 2014 less than 20% of people under 29 bothered to vote.

        Trump vs. Clinton? I expect the turnout will be somewhere in the 30’s. Clinton will get more votes by default, being a Democrat. But young people hate Hillary Clinton. They’ll be voting against Trump much more than they’ll be voting for Clinton.

  7. Are you sure you want to go with that thesis, Robby? If your definition of millennials is the other people in your cohort of journalist types, maybe. But as a whole millennials are utterly economically illiterate and tend to see economic policies as a bunch of false dichotomies. Capitalism just is, it isn’t a thing most millennials really understand or care about. Now fairness, that’s a concept that rings a bell with this generation. Hence the Berniebots.

    If meme magic is any indicator of enthusiasm then Trump, Bernie, and Obama were the most popular candidates ever with millennials. That’s how you see hype. And it fades, always.

    1. I actually read an article from Ekins about this. Yeah, Millenials approve of bigger government-but so did Gen X in the EXACT same numbers. Once the bill comes due the sentiments turn.

      1. Lucky for the millenials, they won’t have to pay as much in income taxes as Gen X did.

        1. Only because they make less.

          1. I believe that was his sarcastic point.

  8. So millennials don’t like socialism but they do like Bernie Sanders, and they don’t like Trump, although Trump and Sanders agree on a lot of economic issues. Maybe millennials just don’t know what the hell they like?

    1. Generation head injury

  9. You can’t always get what you want…

    Trump 2016 everybody!

  10. embodies fiscal responsibility and social tolerance.

    Citation needed

    Millennials. They Like Capitalism Too Much.

    Uh huh. So electing Democrats will prove what exactly?

    perhaps making the Libertarian Party the only serious competitor to the Democratic Party in the battle for the hearts and minds of the under-30 crowd.

    Ha Ha Ha…no.

  11. And how is preferring Sanders to Clinton evidence of a love of the free-market?

  12. And the people who attacked Republicans for being heartless budget-cutters that want old and poor people to die are just going to love Gary Johnson for wanting to raise the retirement age, axe three fedgov departments and 20 percent budget cut. And they will succeed where the Republicans failed because of umm…weed Mexicans and Ass-Sex?

  13. Who will blink first: the Reason writers beating dead horses, or Team Trump chasing after them claiming that those horses are not only alive but likely to win the Triple Crown next year?

    My apathy is palpable.

  14. The GOP doubled down on hate for gay people?
    Peter Thiel announced to the RNC that he’s gay and was cheered.
    Donald Trump vowed to defend America’s LGBT people from terrorists and was cheered.

    Obama and Hillary basically warned the survivors of Orlando not to say anything offensive
    to Islam and vowed to take their guns leaving them defenseless.

    Meanwhile Gary Johnson is telling the survivors and families of the Orlando victims the threat
    of radical Islam is ‘overblown’.

    What kind of crack you smoking? Gay people are, quite simply, Americans, and they aren’t falling for your stupid crap anymore.

    1. The cheering won’t be reported to that voter group, the platform language will. The only thing that might override that information filtering would be Trump twitting out to gay voters on the subject his differences with the GOP.

  15. Baby Boomers are where the votes are. Hell, more “lost generation” survivors probably vote than millennials.

    1. I don’t have a generation, but I’m voting for Johnson.

  16. Nyeeeeh I dunno about the doubling down on gay people post Obama-Romney…I actually thought they lightened up. And I’m pretty sure the Republican party didn’t want him to lead them. I wonder if Hillary didn’t want him to lead them? (Okay, yeah sure, that starts to border on conspiracy theory, but it might be a valid question)

  17. “Donald Trump Will Never Win Millennials. They Like Capitalism Too Much.”

    Like ‘free’ college? ‘Free’ med insurance? ‘Free’ rent?
    I’d like to meet the millennials you mention; they are not the ones I deal with.

    1. Yup, those millennials just love capitalism. What’s more free market than free shit provided by government?

      1. They believe that free markets are the markets you go to where everything is free. Of course, you have to wait in line for 6 hours, and by the time you get in all the shelves are empty. It must be the fault of the wreckers.

  18. This article has the most ridiculous use of stats I’ve ever seen on Reason.

    1. Keep reading.

  19. This is the worst Onion article I’ve read. The premise is just too absurd.

    Wait, this is Reason? Motherfucker!

  20. I don’t think a lot of the claims in this article are true, but I can tell you that my “millennial oil professional” peer group isn’t as enamored with Trump as other oil & gas folks, and isn’t as enamored with Clinton as other millennials. There’s an opportunity for Johnson among the young, well educated and conservative, just as I suppose there is among Sanders lovers; I just doubt Gary’s versatile enough to appeal to both and so far he seems to be pursuing the leftists.

  21. So, let me get this straight. A generation that proclaimed a 70 year-old socialist, who promised everything for free, as their champion are actually closet lovers of capitalism? The same generation that uses brown shirt tactics to silence speech that they don’t like on college campuses, whose victims are usually those who are promoting capitalism, are actually lovers of liberty and individual choice?

    I’m not sure what planet Reason is published on, but it sounds like a very nice and ignorant place.

  22. Millennials don’t like capitalism; they like socialism. Republican/conservative millennials are just as collectivist as their leftist counterparts and Trump’s “America First” white nationalism is a logical expression of that.

    Trumpism is primarily about propping up the bankrupt welfare state for the aging baby boomers, keeping America suspended in a smoke and mirrors version of the 1950s or 1980s – 1980s nostalgia resonates with older millennials.

    Millennials take their political cues from their baby boomer parents. They are conformists, followers looking for a Leader. Trump plays that part for them and they lack the critical thinking skills not to fall for the con.

  23. Robby has never been to /r/The_Donald.

  24. I just can’t be pleased with anyone who think “rights” originate from bedroom bonking preferences. That excludes Hillary and Gary for me.

    And there aren’t any candidates saying they would snatch the control of incomes and property away from D.C.’s welfare staters, and return those rights to individuals, including Hillary, Trump and “can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” Gary.

    So wonder what’s behind all the Reason hullabaloo over Trump as opposed to rest of the welfare state candidates. Do they think with Gary, instead of Trump or Hillary, running the American welfare state into bankruptcy, the Libertarian Party will come out smelling any better than the other two.

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  26. An overwhelming majority of journalist/writers are dorks who let themselves be influenced by the mainstream media. I am Latino, 26 and my whole family is voting for Trump because of the bias and PC crap shoved down our throats 24/7.

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