Election Mark Silk: Spiritual Politics Opinion Politics

Trump’s thirty-something problem

Cast of the TV show Thirtysomething
Cast of the TV show Thirtysomething

Fair Use

Cast of the TV show Thirtysomething

The demographics that have attracted the most attention this presidential season are the gender gap between white men for Donald Trump and white women for Hillary Clinton, the proclivity of the less educated for Trump and the more educated for Clinton, and the embrace of Trump by white evangelicals.

What no one seems to have noticed is the marked preference for Clinton among voters in their thirties and forties.

Last week, a new Pew election survey found Clinton leading Trump nationwide by four points overall, but by 17 points — 46 percent to 29 percent — among voters 30 through 49. That compares with an 11-point spread for Clinton among voters 18-29, with Trump winning the support of voters 50-64 by two points and 65+ by 12.

In states where people know their votes will really count, thirty-somethings are even more strongly for Clinton.

In Georgia, newly in play, voters 30-44 are now backing Clinton over Trump by an astonishing 35 points, 56 percent to 21 percent. That compares to an eight-point Clinton lead among voters 18-29 and 15- and 26-point margins for Trump among voters 45-64 and 65+ respectively.

In Virginia, the latest poll shows Clinton leading Trump among voters 30-44 by 33 points, compared to four points among voters 18-29, 12 points among voters 45-64, and 11 points among voters 65+.

What’s the explanation?

I’d say what we’re seeing is a strong rejection of Trump by young parents. They’re the voters most focused on what their children’s future will be like, and it’s evident that they don’t trust Trump with it.

For those in the religion business, young parents are the greatest source of worry. This is the time of their lives when, historically, they would be joining churches and other houses of worship. These days they’re staying away, in droves.

This year, they’ll be looking after their children by voting for Hillary.

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service


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  • The other side of the coin is that older people see the country as going to hell in a handbasket (they usually do). If Trump gets pissy one day and decides to launch World War III, they’ve lived a good life, so who cares? At least shariah law didn’t take over, right? Those of us with young children thankfully feel differently.

  • The real surprising stats is how many Millennials support third party tickets this year like the Libertarian Party (Gary Johnson and William “Bill” Weld) and the Green Party (Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka). I’m a Millennial myself (born October 20, 1988 so I’ll be 28 is year, but am 27 as of writing this). I’m also a huge Libertarian and huge Gary Johnson supporter.

    The stats you mentioned are incomplete without mentioning the big slices of each demographic voting for Gary Johnson and/or Jill Stein.

    Gary Johnson
    19% Age 18-29
    13% Unaffiliated
    12% Age 30-49
    11% White, College Grad, Some College, Republican, White College+
    10% Total, Men, Postgrad, Catholic, White Non-College
    9% Women, Hispanic, Age 50-64, White Evangelical Protestant
    8% High School or less, Mainline Protestant
    7% Democrat
    4% Black, Age 65+

    Jill Stein
    9% Hispanic, Age 18-29
    6% Age 30-49, Some College, Democrat
    5% Men, Postgrad, Unaffilated
    4% Total, Women, White, Black, High School or less, White Non-College
    3% College Grad, Republican, White Evangelical Protestant, Mainline Protestant, White College+
    2% Age 50-64, Age 65+, Catholic

    Total Third Party
    28% Age 18-29
    18% Hispanic, Age 30-49, Unaffiliated
    17% Some College
    15% Men, White, Postgrad
    14% Total, College Grad, Republican, White College+, White Non-College
    13% Women, Democrat
    12% High School or less, White Evangelical Protestant, Catholic
    11% Age 50-64, Mainline Protestant
    8% Black
    6% Age 65+

    I’m (Stephen Kent Gray) male, black, age 27/28 which is the 18-29 range, some college, Independent, Unitarian Universalist/Buddhist, etc for any demographics which I may have forgotten and am a Gary Johnson (and William “Bill” Weld) supporter.

    The total peractage of Age 18-29 voting third party is bigger than those supporting Donald Trump (28>27) and those supporting Gary Johnson is bigger than the Hillary Clinton lead over Donald Trump (19>17). Age 18-29 have the smallest percentage of people supporting Hillary Clinton versus the other age groups, but you ignored that because brining that up would have to involve talking about third party candidates like Gary Johnson which you went out of your way to avoid doing.

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