There is a great deal of chatter among the political talking heads who are trying to connect the Brexit vote to the US presidential campaign. Most of their analysis is grasping, but there is one key lesson that Democrats need to learn from Brexit, and it is summed up neatly in a single chart.
Here are the voters on Brexit referendum by age:
— Ed Felker (@Energyreporter) June 24, 2016
According to The Telegraph, older voters turnout was the key to victory by the Leave side, “Now that Britain has voted to leave the EU, with a national turnout of 72.2 per cent, this fear seems to be realised. Those areas with the highest share of older voters also enjoyed the highest turnout, helping to shift the referendum.” Turnout was projected to be 80% before the voting but ended up being 72.2%.
An election with lower turnout dominated by older voters looks eerily similar to how Republicans win midterm elections in the US:
The lesson for Democrats from Brexit is that younger voters have to turn out to vote. If the electorate is dominated by an older demographic, Donald Trump odds of winning will increase. Younger voters did not want to leave the EU, but since they didn’t show up at the polls in large enough numbers, they are now going to be harmed by a potentially disastrous result that was determined by the older generations.
The principle behind both Brexit and US elections is the same. When younger voters don’t show up in large enough numbers, conservatives win. Donald Trump may be a self-destructive fool, but if the electorate is small enough, old enough, and white enough, he could win the White House in November.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association