THE MORNING PLUM:

Not long after Donald Trump delivered his acceptance speech at the festival of rage, hate, and megalomania otherwise known as the GOP convention, leading Never Trump conservatives despaired that the GOP’s nomination of Trump could cost the party a generation of young voters. As former Jeb Bush adviser Tim Miller pointed out, the two conventions did not give the average 18-year-old any reason to be a Republican. Miller added: “We’re giving away a generation.”

A new USA Today/Rock the Vote poll released today will not do much to assuage those fears.

The new poll’s toplines are alarming enough for Republicans: They show that Hillary Clinton is beating Trump by 56-20 among voters under 35. By contrast, according to exit polls, John McCain won 32 percent of voters aged 18-30 in 2008 and Mitt Romney won 36 percent of them in 2012, though this is an imperfect comparison of age groups.

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Here’s what this all means, per the USA Today article accompanying the poll:

The findings have implications for politics long past the November election. If the trend continues, the Democratic Party will have scored double-digit victories among younger voters in three consecutive elections, the first time that has happened since such data became readily available in 1952. That could shape the political affiliations of the largest generation in American history for years to follow.

And here is what the new poll finds in terms of which party young voters are now identifying with:

In the new survey, half of those under 35 say they identify with or lean toward the Democrats; just 20% identify with or lean toward the Republicans. Seventeen percent are independents, and another 12% either identify with another party or don’t know.

One in five young voters identifies with the GOP. Now, it should be pointed out that if this 20 percent number is accurate, it may be somewhat misleading to blame it on Trump alone. The Republican Party’s failure to evolve on gay rights, immigration, and other issues was already alienating young people, as even the RNC’s own autopsy into what went wrong in 2012 conceded.

But it seems reasonable to speculate that Trump may be exacerbating that problem. Democrats have tailored their messaging specifically towards young voters by emphasizing his chauvinism, his vow of mass deportations, and his own particularly buffoonish brand of climate denialism (he has called climate change a hoax invented by the Chinese). Trump’s words and positions may be further alienating young voters to an untold degree.

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Indeed, it’s worth noting that there is broad agreement among Never Trump conservatives and Democrats, not just that Trump could be exacerbating an already-existing GOP problem with young voters, but also that it could have untold ramifications for the future. As I’ve reported, Democrats believe Trump may have presented a unique opportunity to deepen the contrast — in the minds of a whole generation of coming-of-age voters — between a GOP branded by Trump’s Fortress America lack of curiosity about the world, his fondness for vicious abusiveness, his relentless appeal to voters’ basest instincts, and his white ethno-nationalism, and a Democratic Party that is embracing culturally and demographically evolving America.

Now, it is always possible that, if Trump loses, the GOP could quickly rebound in 2018 and 2020, without sustaining long term damage from the depredations of Trumpism. But, given what the GOP nominee has proven himself capable of in recent days and weeks, it is striking to contemplate the specific warning that the post-2012 RNC autopsy delivered. “We do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view,” it said, adding that young voters “will continue to tune us out” and that the GOP’s appeal risks “shrinking to its core constituencies only,” if the party does not become more “welcoming and inclusive.”

And that was before Donald Trump took over the party.

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* CLINTON LEADS IN BATTLEGROUNDS, POLLS SHOW: A new batch of CBS polls finds Clinton leading Trump by 45-40 among likely voters in Florida and leading in New Hampshire by 45-36. Trump is up in Georgia by only 45-41.

The polling average has it even closer in Georgia, at 44-43. While there is no sign yet that Dems are spending real money there, it’s intriguing that Trump is campaigning in Connecticut while Dems are the ones expanding the map.

* KEEP AN EYE ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: That Clinton lead in New Hampshire is important, even though it only has four electoral votes. Harry Enten explains why: If she wins there, she has a path to victory even if she loses in Ohio and Florida, because polls show her on track to win in Colorado and Virginia, and that gets her to 270.

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The polling averages now put her up seven points in New Hampshire, and this is another reason the fact that Trump is spending time in Connecticut is increasingly puzzling.

 * TRUMP HAS A HUGE PROBLEM IN FLORIDA: Politico’s Marc Caputo looks at Florida’s voter registration problems and discovers that the electorate there is “getting browner by the day.” The numbers:

Since the 2012 presidential election, Florida’s voter rolls have grown by 436,000 — and only 24 percent of that increase is from non-Hispanic white voters, while non-whites grew by 76 percent….The number of Hispanic voters leaped by 242,000, which was 55 percent of the increase. Latinos are now 15.4 percent of the voter rolls, up from 13.9 percent overall in 2012.

It’s hard to see Trump winning without Florida. But Florida non-whites love Trump, believe me.

* CLINTON’S LEAD MAY BE DURABLE: The Upshot’s Nate Cohn looks at all the evidence and concludes:

The possibility of a landslide victory for Mrs. Clinton…is larger than the chance that Mr. Trump will pull it out. According to The Upshot model, Mrs. Clinton has a better shot at winning the red state of South Carolina than Mr. Trump has at winning the presidency….At this point, it’s probably fair to say that Mrs. Clinton’s lead is real and durable. Gallup data indicates that the post-convention bounce is largely over: Both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton’s favorability ratings have returned to where they were before the conventions.

Clinton currently holds a national lead of around seven points. Meanwhile, Politico notes that the candidate ahead at this point has gone on to win the popular vote “in the last 16 elections.”

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* CLINTON’S ECONOMIC AGENDA IS NOT THAT AMBITIOUS, AND THAT’S OKAY: Paul Krugman points out that Clinton’s economic agenda is not as robust (particularly on infrastructure spending) as some economists might like, but notes that she has at least explained how she would pay for what she has proposed:

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So it’s actually quite brave to say: “Here are the things I want to do, and here is how I’ll pay for them. Sorry, some of you will have to pay higher taxes.” Wouldn’t it be great if that kind of policy honesty became the norm?

Meanwhile, Trump is promising huge, deficit-busting tax cuts for the rich and the preservation of entitlements and a gazillion times more infrastructure spending than Clinton advocates.

 * BREAKING: NRA IS DISSEMBLING ABOUT CLINTON: The NRA claims Clinton doesn’t support the right to own a gun for self defense. Glenn Kessler sets the record straight, noting that even if Clinton has criticized the Heller decision affirming that right, that isn’t enough:

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Clinton has said that she disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller, but she has made no proposals that would strip Americans of the right to keep a gun at home for self-defense. Clinton is certainly in favor of more gun regulations and tougher background checks, and a more nuanced ad could have made this case. Conjuring up a hypothetical Supreme Court justice ruling in a hypothetical case is simply not enough for such a sweeping claim.

In fairness, the Clinton camp has said she thinks Heller was “wrongly decided,” though she subsequently clarified on Fox that she doesn’t want to see it overturned.

* TRUMP STILL TRAPPED IN GOP PRIMARY MINDSET: The New York Times’s epic report over the weekend on Trump’s unraveling mental state included this important reporting:

For now, the campaign’s polling showed, too many voters described him in two words: “unqualified” and “racist.”…he is in a dire predicament, Republicans say, because he is profoundly uncomfortable in the role of a typical general election candidate, disoriented by the crosscurrents he must now navigate and still relying impulsively on a pugilistic formula that guided him to the nomination.

I’ve argued that Trump remains trapped in the mental universe that he inhabited during the GOP primaries. Now we have it pretty much confirmed from the inside.

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