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Moneyball states: President AZ NE-2 NV, Senate MT ME AK, Legislatures KS TX NC

An Early Look at 2024?

November 2nd, 2016, 7:00am by Sam Wang

Here’s something interesting I ran across thanks to @southpaw on Twitter: Scholastic’s survey of the preferences of K-12 kids.

The pattern is striking. This looks a lot like where political demographic trends in the United States seem to be headed. Overall, the electoral count using today’s allocations is 439 D, 99 R. It’s equivalent to a national popular vote of 57% D, 43% R. This 14-point margin is almost identical to the 16-point margin currently reported for millennials, defined as voters aged 18-33.

Of the currently Republican states, those with high Hispanic populations (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Texas) are trending Democratic. So are Southern states with populations that are trending toward being more urban and educated, South Carolina and Georgia. Finally, there are states with a Mormon populations, Idaho and Utah…though I suspect those last states might just be a temporary blip because of Donald Trump, who many Mormons detest.

Obviously, a big question is whether these kids will retain their party preference. It has been observed that when young adults form their first party preference, they tend to retain that preference for a lifetime. If that continues to hold, then Republicans have about 10 years to win over these kids. Might I suggest lemonade and immigration reform?

Tags: 2016 Election · President

84 Comments so far ↓

  • James McDonald

    Has anyone compared such maps from previous elections with electoral results 20 to 40 years later?

    • ajay

      That’s how the bar charts were derived – looking at voting behaviour for different age cohorts.

      Or are you asking whether anyone polled eight-year-old kids in 1996 and then came back and looked at how they voted in 2006?

    • Sam Wang

      Go easy on James McDonald – I looked that up after he made his comment. Thanks, James!

    • James McDonald

      Thanks Sam — I thought I had somehow missed that…

      The bar chart does almost answer my question, although it uses 18-yr old behavior, not 5-18 yr old behavior, as the baseline. And I was looking for a more quantitative correlation. But close enough.

  • Phoenix Woman

    When Texas flips, it’s Game Over for the GOP nationally. Live by the #SouthernStrategy, die by it.

    The big question will be how long they can hang on to the state legislatures.

  • Jim Wright

    This poll has only been wrong twice–in Truman v. Dewey and Kennedy v Nixon.

    • Marybeth

      The straw vote in my 2nd-grade class in 1948 wasn’t wrong! Truman won. I remember that we all went home and asked our parents how to vote the day before the straw vote and, so, we (in Miss Wilson’s class at High Street School in Geneva, NY) were not surprised at all at the results on election day. It was years later that I found out that everyone else was.

      If we take it that kids of that age are mostly voting the way their parents are, then the elementary school portion of the straw vote may be very accurate, indeed.

    • Matt McIrvin

      My daughter told me that at her school in 2012, “the boys were all for Romney and the sensible people were for Obama”. She’s seeing a similar gender gap this time around, though there’s a Trumpist girl she argues with a lot. I think the Trump-supporting boys are very loud about it.

  • Stuart Levine

    Am I the only one who reads this site who remembers the book by the late Art Linkletter “Kids Say the Darnedest Things”?

  • Ed Wittens Cat

    lemonade & immigration reform arent going to cut it–
    because every parent hopes that their child is going to college.
    heres the companion piece–
    the author says the widening divide is education–
    the GOP should offer free college to win those kids over lol
    a lot of this elections polarization isnt about economics as much as it is about SES, socio-economic status.
    college educations dont just improve economic standing– they improve social standing.
    the older whiter GOP base been disenfranchised from American culture which is increasingly diverse, youth-oriented, urban and techno-geeky.
    Its no wonder that red-state country is uniquely vulnerable to a carny barker huckster like Trump.
    He validates them by at least pretending to hear them and honor their concerns.
    And they are desperate enough to believe the con.

  • Kevin King

    So it’s basically the Louisiana Purchase plus Appalachia that stays with the Republicans, huh?

  • Scott

    As a lifelong southerner, this map saddens me
    but doesn’t surprise me.

  • JPI

    I have always thought that these kids vote things are as accurate as they are because they are hearing their parents say who they will really vote for. There’s no filter, and they unconsciously (or probably in many cases consciously ) agree with mom and dad.
    It’s probably the most honest poll conducted all year.

  • Jill

    A question totally unrelated to this post — from looking at the methods, it’s unclear if the PEC predictions account for uncertainty in voter turnout. Is this, for example, accounted for in the random drift? I completely believe that the ‘cake is baked’ as you say, in regard to who people WOULD vote for, but what evidence is there to assume that they have made up their minds on if they are going to actually vote?

    • Steven

      Polls account for it. They have never been wrong by the margin needed for Trump to win. There is no reason to assume they are going to be wrong now. Furthermore, The Upshot has looked at NC early voting and it matches the voter turnout predictions.

  • chris

    from the scholastic web site: “Note: The Scholastic Student Vote is not based on a scientifically designed sample of the student population.” But on the bright side, probably most of them follow PEC predictions.

  • Tim

    The red states look almost like the Louisiana Purchase!

  • Spotted Toad

    I wonder how much this is dominated not by changing political beliefs between kids and their parents as by who is having kids. Remember that the majority of kids in public schools now have low income parents as measured by Free or Reduced Lunch eligibility, and the majority are non-white. Of course, a major driver of American political change in general is demographic shifts (rather than cultural change within groups), but this gets exaggerated when you look at school kids.

    • Ed Wittens Cat

      Good grief.
      Our resident AltRight race-troll seems to imply there is some linkage between free lunches and non-white skin?
      Having failed at linking IQ, g, and race in its last visit, now an attempt to convolve race and SES?
      Anyone that studies demographics should know that in 2008 non-hispanic cauc became the minority demo against non-white kids in US children under 5. Those kids are age 8 to 13 now.
      And that 51% of Americas children live in poverty should shame the obstructionist republican congress more than anything else.

  • AA

    Kayleigh McEnany, who some people call modern day Ann Coulter, was on CNN claiming that Trump won high school kids vote in MN. I guess it was just another made-up fact.

  • Matthew G.

    My earliest political memory is of my mother putting a Mondale sticker on her car in ’84. I would say that it’s predictable that I grew up as a Democrat, except that one of my two brothers did not.

    My three-year-old thinks it’s cute to say he likes Donald Trump, just because he’s three and enjoys taking the opposite position of his parents on everything, and he knows his mother and I are terrified of Trump.

    He’ll never know that the sleep he cost me as a screaming baby a couple of years ago is nothing in comparison to the sleep I lose worrying about the life he would have under a Trump Administration.

  • mediaglyphic

    It looks like african american vote is down in 2016 from the same time in 2012 in FL and NC. I wonder if there is a way of systematically checking the LV models in these states to see if this assumption changes anything. Perhaps some pollsters are dynamically adjusting LV models and that is why we are seeing a small swing towards Drumpf.

    • Matt McIrvin

      My impression is that LV models generally had an assumption like that already baked in. Sometimes liberals took umbrage at it. There was a rumor that the mainstream pollsters were all assuming turnout similar to 2004, but I think that is an exaggeration.

  • PECismyoasisofsanity

    Looks like the Louisiana Purchase voted for Trump.

    • Jeff

      Sell it back to France!

    • Andrew Crowder

      A giant “Vee” of revanchism, with the apex unfortunately in my home state of LA.

      What would we call this country, if it were a country? AppaPlaiRockia? Greater Dixie?

    • BrianTH



    • Matt McIrvin

      It’s the Mississippi/Missouri/Ohio River valley, for the most part. Perhaps excluding the uppermost reaches of the Mississippi.

    • Eric

      Matt – As the lower Mississippi is really part of the Missouri (the Mississippi just happens to flow into the Missouri at a bend), you can drop the Mississippi portion of the name. Few would understand it, but you’d be technically correct.

  • Elizabeth

    When you look at the average DT rally who do you see? Young people of all races and backgrounds?

    No. A heck of a lot of middle aged to elderly Tea Party types in monotones.

    I know that there are young right wing crazies. But study after study has show that the next generation is far more socially liberal than their parents. Even the evangelical youth seem to get WWJD is more about feeding the poor and caring for the sick than it is for picketing Planned Parenthood clinics and overturning Obamacare!

    And look what happened at Liberty University, where the student body repudiated their president’s support of Trump!!

    • Sean

      I was going to say that I believe that every new generation is more savvy than their parents. They might not know the answer but they know how to find it. You aren’t going to fool them with outrageous claims that are debunked with a 5 second google search. I think education/knowledge is the cure to conservatism.

  • Emigre

    It will be interesting to see how this 2024 map compares to the one for current high school students participating in VOTES (Voting Opportunities for Teens in Every State), a nationwide mock election project for high school students. They have already cast their ballots on Nov. 1 and the 2016 VOTES Project results will be announced and streamed live over the Internet from 6:30 to 9 pm on Nov. 6.

  • Andy

    Beinart and Lewandowski argue on CNN about poll aggregation vs poll cherrypicking.

  • Amitabh Lath

    I am uncomfortable with this sort of extrapolation which holds all other variables (party platforms, issues, positions) constant. For all we know, the big issue in 2024 could be if neural-chip telephones should be implanted into infants (and should the govt pay for it?) Or how to stop the brain drain to the Mars colony. Who knows how the factions will form?

    The Republican party is leaderless. A conservative champion of the underclass (a Jack Kemp type) could step into the vacuum and shuffle the deck.

  • Ebenezer Scrooge

    It’s important to note that schoolchildren are considerably less white than older cohorts. This may be enough to explain TX, FL, and GA–although I have no idea what explains AK and IA.

    • blaneyboy

      I want to second Ebenezer Scrooge’s point. Although 88% of public school students were White in 1960, the corresponding figure today is 49%. The age of parents (as Steve pointed out) is one factor explaining why school-aged youth are more likely to identify as Democratic, and the race/ethnicity of public school enrollments is likely another.

    • Kevin O'Connell

      Actually, you’ll find that AK is quickly becoming younger and less white, particularly in terms of voting. Native American registration has been steadily growing over the past decade, and the oil boom brought in a lot of younger workers.

      On the negative side, most of the younger voters are NOT college educated. On the positive side, when you have summer brush fires in ALASKA, climate change is becoming a bigger issue there.

  • Brian MacDougall

    There are ballot measures in Berkeley and San Francisco to allow 16 year olds to vote for school board members and they both look like they will pass. The Old White Men™ need to work a little harder on that outreach thing if they want to hold onto power.

    • Matt McIrvin

      Here’s hoping they at least try to go that route instead of some brute-force one.

  • The Other Dave

    Dude. You just made the same sort of mistake that you made the first year you started this blog. Stop. Remember that you’re a scientist. Instead of making personal wish-list predictions, go back, look at the data from the last few decades, and see if schoolkid polls made accurate predictions. The data exist. I remember this stuff from when I was a kid in the 1970s.

  • anonymous

    A few factors why this kid-driven map may not hold in 2024:

    1. Political involvement is fickle, see the increase in categories labeled ‘outsiders’ and ‘bystanders’ in the link showing retention of political affiliation.
    2. By 2024, the hold of the extremists on the Republican Party might be reduced.
    3. The Republicans might nominate someone likeable, and people can change their customary vote in response to likeable candidates (e.g. Reagan, Obama).
    4. Other miscellaneous stuff: Bad candidate nominated by Democrats, bad election campaign by Democrats, bad political strategy in between elections by Democrats, scandals, recessions, hurricanes, oil rig explosions, bad major website implementation, wars, terrorist attacks etc.

    • Matt McIrvin

      We older people will still mostly be around, and voting more than they do.

    • anonymous

      @ Matt McIrvin

      Agree, but the older people are like an eroding coastline, and the kids are like the ocean.

    • anonymous

      “2. By 2024, the hold of the extremists on the Republican Party might be reduced.”

      I can’t help but reply it might be static and it might be tighter. I’m not sure that vector can be predicted post-Trump. Because it will be a few years before we are truly post-Trump, despite the preferences of the Flake-Graham-Sasse wing of the party.

    • Scott Matheson

      Even if Trump doesn’t win this election, he will dominate the GOP for the next electoral cycle. And if one of his surrogates wins in 2020, the current political alignment will extend at least to 2024. And the underlying anxiety that’s driving this movement isn’t going anywhere, which means the movement isn’t going anywhere. This is not a short-term phenomenon.

    • BrianTH


      But look at the added chart. Cohort replacement is going to involve these new young voters replacing the now-very-Republican silent generation voters. Meanwhile, those late Gen X/Millenial voters will be moving into the middle ages, and likely voting at a lot higher rate. So even if there is not a one-to-one ratio between actual voters being added in the youngest cohort and actual voters being lost in the oldest cohorts, that effect will be supplemented by the aging of the last couple cohorts of very Democratic/liberal voters.

      Accordingly, unless there is some radical shifting within these cohorts, we are looking at the likelihood of pretty rapid change in the nearish future.

    • Ed Wittens Cat

      one word answer why the map will hold–

  • BritJax

    That Pew article you link to is fascinating, particularly the way they break down the left-right voting coalitions. Hard-pressed skeptics than lean D – finally a political category that I feel comfortable putting myself in! Although this immigrant former-Republican millennial is open to being won back the the R side if they were to re-embrace sanity and rational thinking. As Sam so aptly points out, immigration reform would be a good starting point.

  • Lee

    I’d like to see the same map with shades of purple that indicate how strong the leaning is to blue or red.

    • Kevin O'Connell

      Well, I haven’t changed any colors, but the below website has all the state numbers.

      Obviously, the demographic future is shown in the numbers. Clinton carries Texas by 9, larger than her 6% win in Wisconsin, or her 7% win in PA. Ohio was a 43-42% photo finish, as was Indiana’s 45-43%. Trump’s win in Iowa was also by a hair, 42-41%.

      But for the future, AZ, NV and CO were blowouts. Clinton by 23% in AZ, by 31% in both NV and CO.

      One amusing tidbit you have to look deeper into Scholastic’s website for an answer (not on the below page), evidently all sorts of students didn’t agree with the prohibition on third terms. Obama was the #1 write-in, and even carried DC!

  • John Handy Bosma

    Hi, Dr. Wang. Relaying questions for our daughters, who in sixth and fourth grades respectively. They’re working on elections projects and your site is one of their favorites. They hope to be able to cite your answer.

    What are some of the factors that might cause kids votes to show as more Democratic than the adult elections? Why do you think some kids favor a different candidate than their parents, and why does this seem to favor Democrats?

    They also wanted me to mention that even though we live in an area that is likely to go for Trump, Clinton won their schools’ votes. They saw that kids were able to persuade Trump kids to switch to Clinton, but none of the Clinton supporters switched to Trump.

    Thanks from Avani and Kalia

    • Steven

      I know I am not Sam, and sorry for clogging the feed if you feel this post is irrelevant, but your daughters’ questions intrigued me.

      My first guess was that old people are a key demographic for Republicans. Old people do not likely have kids under 18. So if we do think of K-12 representing their parents we can look at age as being a decent proxy. 30-44 year old people favor Clinton by 13 in this Pew Poll,

      This, along some combination of response bias and teens being more liberal than their parents likely lead to the effect seen here.

    • John Handy Bosma

      Steven, thanks, our daughters will really appreciate the reply from you, Sam, or anyone else with insights.

      They have an intriguing that they think might explain this for their schools, at least, and maybe generally. They think that adults’ votes are influenced by people they know, who are mostly like them. Most adults don’t have many friends who have different politics than they do. Students in their schools, in contrast, come into contact with many kids who are different from them – so they experience more diversity that their parents. Because of who’s running and what they stand for, that diverse contact leads many kids to support Clinton even though their parents support Trump.

      They’re thinking this might make a good science project and are thinking about how to measure this. Feedback welcome.

    • Amitabh Lath

      LGBT rights is an issue that is considered settled by the young. A party that equivocates on it might not get a second look. Also Global Warming.

    • Matt McIrvin

      Much of it is probably explained by race/ethnicity. Young people are less likely to be white non-Hispanic.

    • Brooke

      What an interesting conversation, John and Steven, and what precocious daughters! The one-way persuasion dynamic is quite telling. The world could have used that wisdom, in 1933.

    • 538 Refugee

      The core of “Huckleberry Finn” is about a young boy that turned his back on his ‘learning’ and followed his heart. Maybe not all is lost with the next generation?

      A quick Google search seems to indicate young people are generally more optimistic than older people. No suspense on who that favors.

      I don’t know where you hail from, but here in Ohio, Hillary is running commercials about measuring our success by the success of our youngsters. I don’t know if Avani, Kalia and their classmates are exposed to those commercials or not, but that could help them feel included in the process. Also, there has been tremendous outrage over bullying as we try and teach young people to be aware of other peoples feelings. Again, we know who that favors.

      One last thought. Education level plays a role. Teachers pretty much have to be college educated so that will influence to some degree what they hear in school. Of course I have no idea what the demographics of the young people’s parents in this situation. Even though they aren’t in college, they are still actively participating in a learning experience. Maybe being open to the learning experience is one reason some were willing to switch, even if it was one way.

    • Sean Patrick Santos

      I believe that the main effects for younger children are the demographics mentioned above, by Matt and Steven. Parents currently raising children are more likely to be female and an ethnic/racial/religious minority compared to the average adult, and less likely to be older or to live in a rural area. So the map for K-12 looks more Democratic in many states because the parents are actually more likely to be Democrats.

      For older kids, there’s also the fact that Trump’s attitudes toward immigration are unacceptable to a lot of young people. K-12 students are much more likely to be 1st or 2nd generation immigrants than adults are.

      In most Western states, a significant proportion of white native students also go to school with large numbers of 1st/2nd generation students. My high school in Colorado was in a lower-middle-class neighborhood, and about 45% Mexican-American, 50% native white. A lot of the white parents there are non-college-educated and live in the suburbs, so the are in in the Trump demographic, but many of the white kids with Latino friends would have been much more troubled by his stance on immigration and birth citizenship. It is difficult to support a politician when your friends believe that he wants to kick them out of the country.

    • Sean Patrick Santos

      Actually, I should add that your daughters’ idea seems really solid. Just looking at Google, every state on the blue side of the Idaho-Texas line has at least 12% Latino population. Every state on the red side, from Montana to Louisiana, has less than that. The closest state to turning blue is Kansas, which is also the state with the most Latinos on that side of the line.

      I don’t have a specific idea about how to make a measurement here, but if your daughters can get data about diversity among young people in different states, or racial segregation of schools, that would be an interesting thing to look at.

  • David vun Kannon

    I don’t think we’ll see Idaho, Utah, and Indiana flip in 8 years. South Carolina, perhaps.

    • ErnestoDelMundo

      Indiana would be the most likely. It went for Obama in 2008, which shocked the world. I think it would go blue again before South Carolina does.

    • Jessie KK

      Idaho and Western Oregon and possibly Western Washington all have high Mormon populations and probably have the same demographic as Utah.

    • Kevin O'Connell

      Good observation to add Indiana! Prof. Wang himself did note that he thought Idaho and Utah were one-time only events, due to Mormons’ antipathy to Trump.

  • Geoff

    Apologies if this has already been asked (just stumbled upon this site yesterday after reading Washington Post, NYT, 538, etc in a state of fluctuating panic for the last few months). Is there reason to be concerned about the curveball elements of Election Day voter intimidation/other cheating or is that something that is already being considered part of the overall picture?

  • William Ockham

    The bluing of Texas seems inevitable. Think about this. The median age of white, non-Hispanic citizens in Texas is 41. For Hispanic citizens in Texas the median age is 20. The percentage of Hispanic voters favoring the Democratic Party keeps rising. The percentage of Hispanics in the electorate will increase fairly dramatically. The Texas Republican Party has been openly racist for a couple of decades. What does the national Republican Party do when Texas is a swing state?

  • Ken O'Brien

    That voting trend chart is the best, especially the breakout of the 3 5-year age cohort Boomer lines. Shouldn’t (but can’t help) apply it to my individual life: I’m smack dab in middle of youngest boomer row, but I’m 6 years younger than a slug of ~1 year apart brothers and sisters. We approximately look like that middle boomer line (perhaps some lean a little redder, though they mostly keep it to themselves.) I also see why my lunch table has been such a painful place the last couple decades – looking at the first row Gen X’ers who have been my primary table-mates through those years. Angry Alex Keatons, as I think of them.

    • Jessica Goldstein

      At not-quite 47, I’m a first row Gen Xer, and I well remember the literal lunch table of my high school years, when everyone but me was excited about Reagan or Bush. My brothers are on the same line as you. It can be a cold and lonely table, that’s for sure.

  • Catalina

    I would argue that with LGBTQ+ rights being a major issue in which older voters are more conflicted and younger voters are much more pro LGBTQ+, that unless the Republicans stop their rapid movement towards extreme conservatism on this issue, much of the support from young people will continue to erode.

  • San Fran Sam

    Nice map. But I don’t know what alternate reality it came from. Maybe more like 2040 or 2050. I should live so long. (I’m 62.)

    But the other question is whether the map comes about in 2024 or 2040 or 2050, I fear for the damage that the Republican Party will do between now and then.

  • Debbie Osborne

    Was amazed that CNN is using data for their poll maps from CA – Cambridge Analytica (London).
    Trump campaign using CA to design Ads for commercials…how much would misinformation from this data company make it appear that Hillary is losing ground? I am more concerned about truth in media and the promotion of misinformation plus the intrusion of Russia and others outside our country into our political process.

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