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Young, Angry, and Trumpy

Young, Angry, and Trumpy

Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up to supporters after filing the paperwork to put his name on the ballot for the primary election in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., October 23, 2023.

Annie Gugliotta

Happy Top Risk Thursday, where we and our partner company Eurasia Group dive into the much-anticipated forecast of the biggest threats we all face this year. You can download the full report here and let us know if you agree or not (or if you now need a drink).

But let’s start with the Top Risk of the year, the US vs. itself. There was a small skirmish last night in the B-league, silver-medal debate between Republican candidates Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis on CNN that was high on personal insult and low on political consequence. Meanwhile on Fox … he was back for Season 2! Donald Trump held a live town hall, ignoring the other candidates who stand little chance against him. It is Trump’s show now, and Fox is back on board. Here we go!

The Iowa caucus on Jan. 15 formally lights the election fuse on what could be the US electoral version of the film “Oppenheimer.” Bidenheimer? Trumpenheimer? Pick your potential destroyer of worlds, as per your partisan pallor. The rest of the globe is watching because what happens in the US impacts everything from trade to conflicts.

The US is at its most divisive point in generations, but the real story might be, well, generational.

GZERO Media has exclusive access to new polling from Abacus Data, which asked Canadians about the 2024 US presidential election, and the results are telling. Who wants Donald Trump to win? Apparently, young people do.

Overall, 34% of Canadians want Trump to win, and 66% want Biden, which is not a shocker. Neither is the party line breakdown. Preferences for Trump vs. Biden by political choice in Canada are as follows:

Conservatives: Trump 57%, Biden 43%
Liberals: Biden 86%, Trump 14%
New Democrats: Biden 83%, Trump 17%

But check out the breakdown by age: Canadians under 45 are much more likely to prefer Trump to Biden than those over the age of 45. Here’s how it breaks down:

Ages 18-29: 40% want Trump
Ages 30-44: 41% want Trump
45-59: 34% want Trump
60+: Only 23% want Trump

More than any other demographic, young people really want Trump to win. "The strength of Trump in Canada, especially among younger Canadians, reflects a shift in voting behavior and preferences among younger people as they react to a world they feel is deeply broken,” David Coletto, president of Abacus Data, told me (see his Substack here). “In Canada, 49% of men under 45 would prefer to see Trump win the presidency. But even one in three younger women would prefer Trump.”

By the way, this also reflects polling done in the US. A new Gallup survey shows that 42% of Americans between ages 18 and 34 are Trump supporters, and 44% of those aged 35-54 also favor the former president. Biden is losing support among young people and, interestingly, with people of color.

This upends all sorts of assumptions about how younger people vote and how Biden’s economic and social record is not resonating. In the Age vs Rage election, Rage is winning so far, and it’s starting to steal the younger demographic. It also likely reflects where younger people get their information, like TikTok, which recycles a lot of pissed-off voices shouting about why everything sucks (despite many facts to the contrary) and turns it into news.

What does this mean for elections outside of the United States? The conventional wisdom is that Trump might hurt the chances of other conservative or right-wing parties and boost the Left’s prospects, but that might not be the case. “For politicians in Canada who think they will be able to use the US election to their own political advantage – like the Liberals – these results suggest that may not be possible,” Coletto says.

This is consequential. We’ve seen the same story in polling around Israel and Hamas, where older people support Israel’s fight against Hamas, which is recognized as a terrorist group by both the US and Canadian governments. But many younger people feel very differently about the situation, and their support for the Hamas-led fight in Gaza is revealing. It’s not a stretch to forecast that political support for Israel from places like Canada and the US, as the next generation comes to power, might look different than it does today. “The shift in youth preferences may become the story of 2024 with big political implications in the US and in Canada,” Coletto says.

It is still very early in the US election cycle, but the biggest surprise so far? Trump connects with the kids. Everywhere.

________

As I finished writing my column today, news broke that former federal New Democrat leader Ed Broadbent has died at age 87. Broadbent was the very definition of a true public servant and embodied the best of what people expect from political leaders. He transformed and modernized the NDP from the left-wing political conscience of Parliament to a viable power player in government.

Broadbent, as my colleague Graeme Thompson, a senior analyst with Eurasia Group's Global Macro-Geopolitics practice, put it, “distinguished himself as a political thinker, a champion of working-class Canadians, and a politician who earned the respect of his peers across the House of Commons and of people throughout Canada."

- Evan Solomon, Publisher


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