Despite the widely recognized shellacking of Donald Trump by Hillary Clinton in Monday night’s debate, polls show that the presidential race remains surprisingly and disturbingly close.
There are a number of reasons for this, including the historical tendency for an incumbent party to lose support after eight years in office, and a shift among white working class voters who supported Barack Obama in the last two election cycles to the Republican nominee.
But perhaps the single most important factor influencing the election is the number of 18-to-30-year-olds who identify themselves as “likely voters” this November.
The millennial vote has proven critical in recent election cycles. Relatively high numbers of young voters in 2008 and 2012 led to important Democratic victories; a much lower turnout in 2010 and 2014 resulted in major Republican gains.
There are disturbing indications that turnout for 18-to-30-year-olds this coming November will be significantly lower than for Obama’s election and re-election. And, according to one recent poll, 44 percent of millennials said they will be voting for either Green Party nominee Jill Stein or Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson.