by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Super Tuesday results have exposed the dramatic divide among age groups in their support for Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, which could be a bad sign for Democrats in the general election, no matter who the nominee is.
Simply put: Exit polls have shown that Biden’s surge is being driven by overwhelming support among older voters, while Sanders has dominated among younger voters.
As an example, in Virginia, which provided Biden his first big win of the night, he did progressively better the older voters were, winning 76% of those 65 and older, compared to just 7% for Sanders. Yet despite losing the state, Sanders won 57% of voters aged 17 to 29, compared to just 26% for Biden.
The problem for Democrats is that once one of them becomes the nominee, that person will have to do well among both groups in the general election. Specifically, they’ll need bigger margins among young voters and will have to eat into President Trump’s relative strength among older voters.
To be sure, it’s true that primary voting patterns don’t always translate to the general election. For instance, nobody would expect Trump to beat Biden among younger voters, even if Biden has struggled with younger voters in the primaries. However, when results are so lopsided, they can help provide an early measure of enthusiasm that could carry over to November.