Oct 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

SurveyMonkey poll: Young voters' red-state blue wall

Data: SurveyMonkey; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

There are only five states in the U.S. where voters younger than 35 embrace President Trump over Joe Biden, and none are swing states, according to new 50-state SurveyMonkey-Tableau data for Axios.

Why it matters: These scattered red spots in a sea of blue vividly illustrate Trump's peril if young people were to actually turn out this year. Put another way, Trump's path to re-election depends heavily on younger adults staying home.

  • The data also serves as a warning for the Republican Party in nearly every state as it looks beyond one presidential contest.

By the numbers: Among 640,328 likely voters surveyed nationally across multiple waves from June through this week, Trump maintained a clear lead over Biden with the under-35 set in Wyoming (61%-39%), South Dakota (57%-41%), Arkansas (56%-43%), Idaho (55%-45%) and West Virginia (53%-45%).

  • In some other red states, younger voters strongly supported Biden over Trump — including two pivotal ones, Texas (59%-40%) and Georgia (60%-39%), and even deep-red South Carolina (56%-43%).
  • Trump and Biden were practically neck-and-neck among young voters in another five red states. Biden appeared to have a very slight edge with young voters in Alabama (51%-48%), while Trump appeared to be slightly ahead in North Dakota (52%-48%), Kentucky (51%-48%), Oklahoma (50%-48%) and Alaska (50%-49%).
  • Biden led Trump with younger voters by ranges of between 18-28 percentage points in the battlegrounds of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Between the lines: Starting at around age 35, and intensifying through voters' forties, fifties and early sixties, the polling showed a sharp shift toward Trump in what we think of as traditional red states and battleground states.

  • Some of that support in some of those states then shifted back toward Biden among 65+ likely voters.

Most voters' minds were made up about presidential preferences months ago, and both campaigns have focused more on turnout than on trying to get voters to change horses.

  • The long time span of the surveys allowed pollsters to capture samples large enough to slice by age groups in smaller states. Still, these subgroups may be less reliable measures in less populous states than in larger ones.

What they're saying: "It's certainly striking, when you look across all of these states together, how sweeping it is, how Democratic Gen Z and the Millennials are," said SurveyMonkey chief research officer Jon Cohen.

  • But because younger voters are less reliable to turn out, he said, "there is the conditional 'if they vote.'"
  • "Trump still has a chance this cycle, but if these numbers hold up over the next several elections, it's going to be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win."

Methodology: These data come from a set of SurveyMonkey online polls conducted for Axios and Tableau June 8 – Oct. 20, 2020, among a national sample of 640,328 likely voters.

  • The sample sizes per age group per state ranged from 139 for likely voters 18-34 in Wyoming, to 23,724 for likely voters 65 and older in California.
  • Respondents were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day.
  • Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over.
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