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29%

Percentage gap between respondents aged 18-29 and respondents aged 65 and older who said they were “extremely enthusiastic” about “voting in the 2018 elections,” according to the latest Univ. of Texas/Texas Tribune poll (PDF).

Younger Texans simply do not vote at the rates of their elders. Adults under 30 represented less than 10% of 2018 Democratic primary voters, less than 5% of 2018 Republican primary voters and less than 14% of the 2016 general election voters, according to an analysis of turnout in 20 populous counties by Republican strategist Derek Ryan. Voters aged 60 and older represented 44%, 56% and 33% of those electorates, respectively.

According to the UT/TT poll, respondents aged 65 and older were more than twice as likely (53% to 24%) to say they were “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in the 2018 general election. They’re more than three times as likely (46% to 16%) to say they vote in “every election” and twice as likely (40% to 21%) to say they vote in “almost every election.” They’re also more than twice as likely (65% to 31%) to say they’re “extremely interested” in politics.

Looking at the political mood of the electorate, there is a strong gap between younger and older respondents. The poll found that respondents aged 65 and older, compared to respondents under 30, were:

  • Twice as likely (45% to 22%) to “approve strongly” of President Trump’s job performance
  • Nearly twice as likely (53% to 30%) to say that the country was headed in the “right direction” and more than twice as likely (43% to 16%) to say that the national economy is “a lot better off” than a year ago
  • More than twice as likely (42% to 18%) to “approve strongly” of Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) job performance; and
  • More than twice as likely (32% to 15%) to “approve strongly” of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R) job performance.

Read together, these poll results suggest a greater proportion of the electorate will view the current slate of state and federal leaders favorably than unfavorably, and that generally benefits the status quo.

Respondents under 30 prefer U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) over Cruz, 39%-30%, while those 65 and older more strongly prefer Cruz, 55%-34%. It’s also worth noting that nearly a quarter of respondents under 30 have “no opinion” on the race at this time, compared to just 7% of respondents 65 and older.

Similar spreads occur in the generic ballot tests. Respondents under 30 prefer Democratic congressional (46%-36%) and legislative (49%-36%) candidates, while those 65 and older more strongly prefer Republican congressional (54%-37%) and legislative (52%-39%) candidates.

Potentially even more troubling to Democrats’ efforts to build a blue wave is the negative change in attitudes of adults under 30 from June 2014 until June 2018. Just over four months before the 2014 election, 46% of respondents under 30 said they were “extremely interested” in politics. Just 31% of respondents under 30 are “extremely interested” in politics today.

Keep in mind that respondents frequently, sometimes vastly, overstate their real likelihood of voting. In 2014, 34% of registered voters cast ballots for governor, which was lower than the percent of respondents who said they voted in “every election” (37%) in the October 2014 UT/TT poll.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC