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Donald Trump and Young Voters

Our full analysis of Donald Trump's performance with young voters in the primaries shows that youth generally preferred him less than other candidates.

Today CIRCLE released a comprehensive analysis of Donald Trump’s level of support from young people during the 2016 primary election cycle, which examines how Trump’s  support from young voters stacks up with previous Republican nominees, as well as implications for the general election.

Based on CIRCLE analysis of 21 Republican primary states with youth vote choice data, our major findings include:

  • Generally, Donald Trump received a lower level of support from youth, ages 17-29, than from older voters, particularly those over 45: averaging roughly one-third of the youth vote vs. 43 percent of older voters.
  • Trump received a slightly larger proportion of estimated youth votes in the primary season than previous Republican nominees Senator John McCain (2008) and Governor Mitt Romney (2012).
  • As a whole, young people view Trump unfavorably, with young women and non-white youth, who together make up roughly 70 percent of the youth electorate, viewing him even more unfavorably. Meanwhile, young people with less formal education showed greater levels of support for Trump in the primaries.
  • Two major factors may affect Donald Trump’s performance with young voters in November: education and ideology/party affiliation. For example, Trump seems to perform especially well among youth without a four year-college degree, but these young people tend to have a fairly low overall turnout.

As the full analysis explores in depth, there are key demographic, educational, and ideological disparities among youth that will play a key role in determining how much youth support Donald Trump garners this November.

In a forthcoming analysis, CIRCLE will publish a similar briefing exploring Hillary Clinton’s performance and prospects with young voters.