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Power Up: How can Republicans bring back young voters? Good question.

with Brent D. Griffiths

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Across the Pond: In an interview with Piers Morgan on “Good Morning Britain” that aired on Wednesday morning in the U.K., Trump discussed his personal feuds, continued to question climate change, said he preferred not to take military action in Iran, and explained why he banned transgender people from the military. The interview was sandwiched by late night tweets attacking Bette Midler and early morning tweets about the plagiarism allegations against Joe Biden. 

  • On climate change: “I believe that there’s a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways,” Trump told Morgan, according to my colleague Isaac Stanley-Becker. “Don’t forget it used to be called global warming. That wasn’t working. Then it was called climate change. Now it’s actually called extreme weather, because with extreme weather, you can’t miss.”
  • On his 2020 opponents: “There’s no Winston Churchill in the group. Let me put it that way.” 
  • On his military transgender ban: “You would actually have to break rules and regulations to have that,” Trump said, arguing transgender people have to take "massive amounts of drugs" after operations to switch their gender. Though he was “proud” of troops of all identities, he said, “You have to have a standard, and you have to stick by that standard. And we have a great military and I want to keep it that way.” 

Lookahead: Trump just touched down in Portsmouth, England to join the royal family and political leaders to commemorate D-Day and bid farewell to the Queen before he leaves for Ireland. 

The People

NOT YOUR PARENT'S GOP: It’s not often you’ll hear us say this, but David Brooks asked it best in his column earlier this week: “The most burning question for conservatives should be: What do we have to say to young adults and about the diverse world they are living in?”

The existential question from Brooks to his fellow countrypeople was the cliffhanger of his argument that today’s generation gap — the most significant chasm in American politics today — portends a “GOP Apocalypse.”  

So, we threw the question out there to some people who are paid to think about these things and prevent this from happening: What’s the GOP’s sell to the young voters of America, 56 percent who disapprove of the way Trump's handling his job as president and 34 percent who approve?

Pollsters, campaign and party officials, and academics told Power Up that Republicans should and can attract young voters on the basis of individual liberty, in tandem with a message of religious and economic freedom. And that young voters, to a certain extent, might be open to conversations about school choice, arguments around drug pricing and merit-based immigration proposals.

  • Liberty: “To the extent that younger people have thus far been liberals, as the left moves more and more to an aggressively anti-religious, anti-speech, anti-market, anti-liberty position demanding lock-step adherence in speech and action, it opens up the opportunity for a Republicans to reclaim the brand as the party of individual liberty,” Chris Wilson, a GOP pollster and the CEO of WPA Intelligence, told us. 

It's the economy, stupid: They also pointed to the current economy and job market.

  • “The Republican Party is the party of economic opportunity and greater prosperity, and I can't think of a stronger message for a generation of people entering the best labor market in decades,” Jesse Hunt, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, wrote in an email.
  • “There shouldn't be a reluctance to communicate with that segment of the population when there's a positive story to tell,” Hunt added.
  • “Young voters, like others, are feeling the benefits of the booming Trump economy and also have confidence in its long-term vibrancy,” Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, told Power Up. “Our efforts across social media platforms and other methods will allow us to reach them and communicate how the President’s record and agenda have been beneficial in their lives."

Too little, too late: Murtaugh and Hunt are somewhat right — 68 percent of young Americans say they are in very or fairly good financial standing and 45 percent of students think getting a job will be easy, the strongest set of numbers since the 2008-2009 recession, according to a spring 2019 Harvard Institute of Politics survey. However, millennials are still in poor financial shape, especially in comparison to baby boomers and Generation X. 

  • “They have less wealth, less property, lower marriage rates and fewer children, according to new data that compare generations at similar ages,” per the Wall Street Journal's Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg. “Even with record levels of education, the troubles of millennials have delayed traditional adult milestones in ways expected to alter the nation’s demographic and economic contours through the end of the century.”

And that support for the economy is not translating into increased backing for Republicans, according to John Della Volpe, Harvard’s IOP director. Don't forget that 31 percent of young voters turned out in the 2018 midterms, sharply up from 21 percent in that last midterms of 2014, according to Circle, a group that works with Tufts University.

Values voters: Della Volpe believes that ultimately the relationship between the GOP and young voters is beyond numbers and crosstabs and gets at a fundamental shift in values embraced by today's youth — diversity, opportunity, a clean environment, a safety net for the marginalized, etc. Della Volpe pointed to three data points that align with Brooks's argument and bode poorly for the GOP in the years to come. 

  1. “The increasing interest in voting among young people — that's a direct response to the effect of the Trump administration,” he said. 
  2. “Regardless of Trump, the last several years on every issue we have tracked, generations are becoming more and not less progressive,” Della Volpe told us. 
  3. “I don't think the Republican Party has made a concerted effort to develop a relationship based on shared values with this generation. There have been opportunities around education, trade, even around immigration and health care but I haven't seen indications in our data of that work being put in . . . and I think Republican candidates are now paying the price for it.” 

OLD WHITE PEOPLE: There was agreement among Republicans we interviewed that Brooks was right in that “Republicans can't just be the party of old white people, though we aren't to the extent that he suggests," in the words of Wilson.

Although, Trump's victory, as Brooks addresses, undermines the theory that changing demographics has thus far benefited Democrats electorally: 

  • “In 2002, John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira wrote a book called 'The Emerging Democratic Majority,' which predicted electoral doom for the G.O.P. based on demographic data. That prediction turned out to be wrong, or at least wildly premature. The authors did not foresee how older white voters would swing over to the Republican side and the way many assimilated Hispanics would vote like non-Hispanic whites," Brooks writes. 

ALL COMES BACK TO TURNOUT: “Consistently higher-turnout rates among older white Americans are the biggest counterargument to Brooks’s piece," Scott Clement, our polling guru at The Post added.

  • "[T]he principal critique of this analysis is that younger voters and voters of color won’t turn out like older white people," Washington Post polling analyst Emily Guskin seconded.  

However, when Guskin compared the way young white people voted in previous national elections to the voting habits of older white people, white individuals are still trending away from Republicans: 

  • “For example, in the 2016 congressional election network exit polls, whites under 30 tilted Republican by 10 percentage points, a smaller margin than older whites, who Republicans won by at least 20 points each. In 2018 midterms, network exit polls found that whites under 30 voted for Democrats by a 13-point margin — those 30-44 years-old split evenly and older whites preferred Republicans by double-digit margins," according to Guskin. 

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Outside the Beltway

THEN THERE WERE TWENTY: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet’s campaign announced he has met the polling threshold for the first round of Democratic presidential debates, making him, by most counts, the 20th candidate to qualify. Bennet’s news is a key development as the Democratic National Committee would be forced to cut a candidate if any one of the remaining three major contenders qualifies as well. The first debate is coming up on June 26 in Miami.

  • A quick refresher on how this works: To qualify, candidates must reach at least 1% support in qualifying national and early state polls or secure 65,000 unique donors with a minimum of 200 per state in at least 20 states. If you want to nerd out, the full rules are here.

Here’s how that breaks down, per our colleague Amber Phillips' helpful rundown:

  • Polling alone (seven qualifiers): Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Rep. John Delaney (Md.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio), Rep. Eric Swalwell (Calif.) and now Bennet
  • Donations and polling (13): Former vice president Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Kamala Harris (Calif,) South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Rep. Beto O’ Rourke (Texas), Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, businessman Andrew Yang, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), spiritual guru Marianne Williamson and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

To borrow terminology from March Madness, the seven candidates who have just reached the polling threshold should be considered on the bubble. For now, they are in but should a 21st candidate qualify, the DNC has tiebreakers that kick in — most likely based on the highest polling average.

Who’s out?: Right now, Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam and Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton have yet to meet either threshold. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is considered by some news organizations to have met the polling threshold, but that opinion is not unanimous.   



But Biden admitted on Tuesday to “lift[ing] language without credit, at times word for word, when crafting its education and climate plans, incidents the campaign acknowledged and said were inadvertent,” our colleagues Matt Viser, Dino Grandoni and Jeff Stein report.

  • Flashback: “The incidents appeared to be staff errors when detailing Biden’s policies, and they underscored how hastily his campaign was attempting to put out specific proposals,” Matt, Dino and Jeff write. “But the issue was a particularly sensitive one for Biden, whose 1988 campaign was derailed after he plagiarized, in speeches, rhetoric used by British politician Neil Kinnock.”

Global Power

WORLD ROUNDUP: Trump’s state visit to the U.K. has dominated headlines at home, but here a few critical developments you may have missed elsewhere in the world. 

Violence in Libya is the worst since Gaddafi’s overthrow:

  • “For nearly two months, this besieged North African capital of more than 1 million people has been ensnared in its worst episode of violence since the toppling of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi almost eight years ago. The forces of renegade commander Khalifa Hifter have reached the city’s southern edges and are battling a constellation of militias aligned with a U.N.-backed government,” our colleague Sudarsan Raghavan writes in a harrowing story from on the ground Tripoli.
  • Sudarsan also writes the violence right now is unlike other post-Gaddafi clashes due to combatants “deploying heavier weaponry and air power, including armed drones,” which is happening while U.N. investigators say outside powers are “blatantly violating an international arms embargo.”

The Trump administration cracked down on travel to Cuba:

China issued a travel warning about the U.S.:

  • Amid an increasingly bitter trade war, China warned residents about traveling to the U.S. because “gun violence, robberies and thefts have become frequent in the United States and that visitors should 'fully assess the risk of travel' there,” our colleague Marisa Iati reports.
  • The warning, which runs through end of the year, is yet another sign the ongoing trade dispute is beginning to spill over into other areas.


On The Hill

GOP SENATORS SHOW NO LOVE FOR MEXICAN TARIFFS: “Defiant Republican senators warned Trump administration officials Tuesday they were prepared to block the president’s effort to impose tariffs on Mexican imports, threatening to assemble a veto-proof majority to mount their most direct confrontation with the president since he took office,” our colleagues Erica Werner, Seung Min Kim, Damian Paletta and Mary Beth Sheridan report.

  • Tough crowd: “During a closed-door lunch on Capitol Hill, at least a half-dozen senators spoke in opposition to the tariffs President Trump intends to levy next week in an attempt to force Mexico to limit Central American migration to the United States,” our colleagues write. “No senator spoke in support, according to multiple people present who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.”
  • McConnell speaks: “There is not much support in my conference for tariffs — that’s for sure,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters.
  • Reality check: Our colleague Paul Kane perfectly describes why we’re not holding our breaths over a possible veto override (if we do get to that point.)
  • Mixed messages: “Mexican officials have been confused about what precisely the White House is demanding in exchange for the tariffs to be withdrawn, and White House officials will not say exactly what Trump wants. Some White House officials believe the meeting will mark the beginning of earnest negotiations that will pick up in intensity after the tariffs have been in place for a while,” our colleagues write.
  • How this could play out: It remains unclear how this will happen as it depends on what legal rationale the Trump administration uses for the tariffs. But we do know that the tariffs are scheduled to increase by 5 percent on July 1 and then keep increasing for the next three months until they reach 25 percent. Business groups have said they are eyeing the possibility of a lawsuit.
  • Speaking of legal issues: “[Trump] is once again sailing in uncharted legal and constitutional waters,” our colleague Fred Barbash reports in a story that details the very real legal questions Trump’s maneuver will encounter. For example, the law the White House cited in its initial statement has never been used to impose tariffs before, but rather has been used to impose economic sanctions on countries.
  • What’s happening today: Vice President Pence is holding a meeting at the White House with top Mexican officials. Trump said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also be in attendance.

In the Media