In February, President Trump announced via Twitter that "any negative polls are fake news." If that's not factually the case, then he certainly has cause to worry — at least, according to his latest public approval numbers. Trump's approval ratings have dropped to historic lows in recent months after various public missteps, and one group specifically seems particularly averse to his policies. A new Gallup poll reports that only 20 percent of Americans under 30 approve of Trump's performance in office, and that could be a major problem for the president, but only if young people turn this opposition into action at the polls.
Trump's poll numbers in the 18-to-29-year-old demographic have been declining for months. According to Axios, Trump's approval rating with young people peaked at 36 percent on his 100th day in office, which was already a near-record low. Many scholars have pointed to the fact that Trump's unpopularity among American youth is not only bad news for Trump's 2020 re-election chances; it could also have devastating long-term consequences for the Republican party.
But young voters only have the power to make a real political impact if they actually vote, and youth voter turnout has been a problem for decades.
Young voters have a great amount of power at the polls, especially given that a recent Pew Research study found that millenials have now overtaken Baby Boomers as America's largest generation. But that voting power is not often utilized. Only 46 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds voted in the 2012 elections, and while that percentage increased to just over 50 percent in the most recent presidential race, that number is still below the general expected voter turnout rate of 58 percent.
The latest Getty approval polls give us a clear picture of exactly how young people feel about the president. But what they don't give us is a picture of what these youth will actually do about those negative feelings. According to New York Magazine, the respondents in the latest Gallup poll are not screened for voter registration or likelihood to vote, meaning that it's unclear how many of them will actually head to the polls in the next elections.
But of course, Trump's unorthodox presidency is unlike anything we've ever witnessed in history. Since Trump's Inauguration in January, millennials have marched through the streets of Washington, D.C. for women's rights, participated in non-violent protests against white supremacists, and even committed to running for office in large numbers.
Young people have the power to make a difference. And given the latest poll numbers, they will be a key factor in the 2018 elections — as long as they continue standing up for what they believe in and taking their grievances all the way to the voting booth.