While America’s Young Voters Are Rejecting Trump, Young Europeans Are Embracing Others Like Him

Senior Contributor
08.17.16 5 Comments

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Trump’s poll numbers have not been good lately, thanks to his campaign gaffes, but among young voters in particular, he’s struggling to get any traction. Trump has just 20% support among voters under 35, according to USA Today‘s most recent polls. That’s worse than any President has ever experienced.

What makes Trump’s numbers stand out in sharper contrast, though, is how different they are from the rest of the Developed World. Across the world, Trump’s platform, albeit not Trump himself, is finding younger and younger ears. So what makes America, and its young voters, unique?

Right-Wing Sentiment Is Growing In Europe

Probably the most visible sign of right-wing sentiment in Europe was the narrow Brexit victory, which left Britain in political and economic turmoil. However, that election aligns surprisingly well with America in some ways; it was driven heavily by older voters, and it tended to be steeped in rhetoric about immigration. In fact, some voters believed they were voting on whether immigrants would remain or leave Britain, not whether Britain would stay in the EU.

Elsewhere in Europe, however, younger voters are going in droves for right-wing parties. In 2015, young voters swept the National Front, a far-right political party similar to the more extreme edges of the GOP, to a first-round victory in regional French elections, although it ultimately lost to more moderate right-wing Republicans in the second round. The anti-Eurozone AfD party of Germany has seen rapidly growing voter support among young men, despite only being three years old. The Sweden Democrats have been steadily building a power base since surprise wins in municipal elections in 2006. Italy’s far-left Five Star Movement is the most popular with voters under 50. Greece is in such dire straits that a blatantly neo-Nazi political party, the Golden Dawn, is seeing a rise in popularity.

Lumping all these movements together is a bit foolish; many of these parties would roundly reject Trump himself. They all, however, have broadly the same sentiments as Trump, much like Trump and Bernie Sanders were surprisingly similar on the issue of trade. They believe globalization, and more specifically the European Union, is dragging down their economy. They believe immigration is a serious social issue best solved by closing the border and tightening immigration restrictions. They argue government doesn’t reflect the will of the people. In fact, just like Trump is complaining about “rigged elections,” the National Front publicly claimed its second round loss in 2015 was due to party collusion.

So what’s happening? Why is America trending left, while Europe is headed to the right?

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