President Donald Trump is having a tough time with America’s youngest voters. According to a new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV, just 33 percent of people between the ages of 15 and 34 approve of Trump’s job performance.
That’s 9 points lower than all other adult respondents, who gave their opinions in another recent AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs survey. Trump’s current approval rating, according to Gallup, is at 39 percent, which is around where it’s hovered for most of his presidency.
The AP’s survey also reveals just how negatively those young — and upcoming — voters view the president. The poll found that a majority in that age range of 15- to 34-year-olds — 60 percent — described Trump as “mentally unfit.” Another 63 percent agreed that the president “is a racist.”
Young respondents also split with Trump on key issues such as immigration and protecting LGBTQ and minority rights. Fully 69 percent supported a pathway to legal status for DREAMers; 59 percent supported policies to protect LGBTQ rights.
Millennial voters make up the largest share of the electorate and they’re also much more diverse than previous generations. This should favor the Democrats, although millennial turnout in 2016 fell short of expectations. In 2012, Barack Obama won 60 percent of the millennial vote, compared to 37 percent for Mitt Romney. In 2016, Hillary Clinton only won 55 percent to Trump’s 37 percent.
That enthusiasm gap hints at the biggest question about millennials’ voting patterns: whether they’ll turn out in droves to vote. There are early signs that millennials — and those voters, or soon-to-be voters, in Generation Z — might finally be ready to capitalize on their power as a voting bloc.
Just look at the gun reform activism following the Parkland shooting: Teen and young adult activists led walkouts in high schools and colleges and helped organize the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC, and other cities that turned out hundreds of thousands. The march had a much broader age reach — it wasn’t just teenagers and young adults. The 2018 midterms, however, will be the first true test whether antipathy for Trump among millennials and other young people transfers to real political influence.