Bob Bernick’s notebook: The times they are a changin’

Bernick Mug 01

The Utah Republican Party has a challenge.

And I’m not talking about getting back on financial good footing or sidelining the archconservative crazies like the “Gang of 51.”

I’m talking about young adult Utahns.

Even before the Mueller report came out showing how distrustful, how scheming Republican President Donald Trump has been, young adult Utahns had a real problem with the president.

A January poll for by Dan Jones & Associates shows that adult Utahns give Trump a disapproval rating of 51-48 percent.

But young adults dislike him much more:

Among those who are 18-24-years-old, Trump’s disapproval rating is 61-39 percent; that is, 61 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” disapprove of him, only 39 percent approve of the job he is doing as president.

And this is BEFORE the Mueller report.

Among those who are 25-34-years-old, Trump has a disapproval rating of 59-33 percent.

These are terrible numbers for the president among younger Utahns.

A story this week shows that younger Utahns are not aligning themselves with the Republican Party as their elders do.

While only a third of younger Utahns say they are Republicans – belong to that party – upwards of 60 percent of older Utahns say they belong to the party of Trump.

That has to be a discouraging number for GOP leaders in Utah.

Now, most of those non-Republican young adults are not going to the Democratic Party.

DJA polling shows the Democrats run about the same through all the various age groups – about 19-21 percent as you move from 18-year-olds to senior citizens.

No. The young adults are saying they are political independents, rather than belong to either the Republican or Democratic parties.

DJA finds that 40 percent of 18-24-year-olds say they are independents.

That compares to only 20 percent of 55-64-year-olds who are independents.

Now, Utah is a very red state. And if he is the Republican nominee, Trump will certainly win the state’s six Electoral College votes next year.

But if you assume 18-34-year-olds are the future of your political party, the GOP leaders, who are a lot older than that, have some work to do to bring young voters into their fold.

You don’t do that by being exclusionary, rather than inviting.

You don’t do that by keeping more GOP candidates off of the party’s primary ballot – denying those younger voters their vote for party nominees.

You don’t do that by patting them on the head at March caucus meetings (if they even bother to attend with the old folks) and telling them now is not their time to be a county or state delegate.

All you have to do is scan the faces of the 4,000 delegates at a state GOP convention – they are by far older white people, mostly men.

Young people may not be flocking to the Utah Democratic Party, either.

But if more and more younger Utahns are not involved with, or consider themselves, Republicans, if more and more are independents, then they will likely not automatically vote for the GOP candidate on the general election ballot.

They may consider voting for the person, man or woman, instead of the one with an “R” by their name.

And in Salt Lake County, or Summit County, or Grand County, or Weber County – places where there are a number of Democrats/independents – then there could be trouble ahead for Republicans in the 2020s and 2030s.

Best pay attention to your children – old white guys running the state GOP.

The times they are a changing.