Republicans living deep in denial have comforted themselves this year with a number of myths and half-truths.
"Young voters don't like Hillary Clinton at all," they'd say to themselves and each other, pointing to exit polling from the Democratic primary showing Bernie Sanders defeating Clinton by epic margins. "They'll all become Republicans one day, when they get into the Real World" is the refrain often heard. The underlying message: Everybody stay calm. Things with the youth vote are fine.
This is not fine. This is the furthest thing from fine. This is a train wreck caused by a car crash spilling nuclear waste resulting in a hundred dumpster fires.
The party that won young voters in 1984 by a large margin, the party that held Democrats to essentially a draw with young voters as recently as the election of 2000, is now on the verge of a catastrophe with young voters so great that it may well break the record set by the GOP's defeat with this group in the election of 2008.
At least John McCain won a third of young voters. Trump will be lucky if he gets a quarter of them.
Good polling on young voters can be hard to come by, but the best evidence suggests Republicans are due to face losses with the under-30 crowd never before experienced by any political party since the advent of modern exit polling.
Harvard's Institute of Politics shows Trump winning only 25 percent of likely voters in this age group. USA Today and Rock The Vote find Donald Trump winning only 20 percent of young voters, with Clinton surging all the way to 68 percent of this voter group.
On Tuesday, Survey Monkey released an electoral map generated from thousands of interviews it has conducted online with millennial voters, projecting what the election would look like if only young voters cast their ballots. In it, Donald Trump barely cobbles together 23 electoral votes, leaning almost exclusively on states with extremely tiny minority populations.
It didn't have to be this way. Young voters are hardly in love with Hillary Clinton. Harvard's polling has only 40 percent of young voters holding a favorable view of her. She simply benefits from the fact that only 19 percent have a positive view of Trump. And even if you assume young voters are expected to lean to the left, that doesn't mean it is normal for the entire map to be a sea of dark blue when looking at this voter group.
Republicans losing young voters even in places like South Carolina and Alabama was not the way of things as recently as 2004, when George W. Bush lost young voters nationally by a modest margin and still at least won majorities of young voters in many states that lean Republican. Even in Obama's blowout win in 2008, McCain held Obama to a draw with young voters in Georgia and Alabama.
Exit polling in red states in 2012 is sparse, but shows Romney was able to barely edge Obama with young voters in a less deep-red state such as Indiana, suggesting a similar story in redder states.
What we are seeing here is not normal. It is not just kids being their usual optimistic, idealistic, progressive selves.
Because it's also not just the kids. Sure, it's easy to dismiss a bunch of 20-year-olds. But what about the oldest edge of the millennial generation, those of us who have entered our thirties, who are supposed to have had that magic conservative awakening upon becoming "real adults"?
Pew Research Center asked in August how voters were leaning, and in that study, voters in their 30s and 40s broke out almost the same way as voters in their 20s, with the notable exception that even more supported Hillary Clinton. (Recall that the 20-somethings were still flirting with third-party candidates in August.)
Old millennials and their Gen-X cousins are of the age where many are gainfully employed, out of their parent's homes, have houses and kids of their own. This supposedly inevitable rightward shift isn't happening.
If you think this is just a temporary blip, that everything is fine, that voters will get old and decide they want to back Republicans once more? Wake up. The damage that is being wrought by this election is extraordinary, and it was entirely predictable and preventable.
Comfort yourselves all you want that young voters may not turn out in huge numbers in two weeks. All that will mean is that this election is lost less badly than had they turned out in normal force. These voters are not going anywhere. They'll be voting until the elections of the 2060s and 2070s.
Young voters are not enamored of Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party. That these voters are about to cast ballots in her favor by margins even larger than those enjoyed by Obama in 2008 is the result of nothing short of electoral malpractice on the part of Republican Party.
Kristen Soltis Anderson is a columnist for The Washington Examiner and author of "The Selfie Vote."