Youth vote in the news 🗞: Week of 12/05 and the latest Harvard IOP Youth Poll
Mixed messages for Democrats. Mutual dislike for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. And will influencers stand by President Joe Biden in his quest for reelection?
From young voters’ mixed messages for Democrats, to a youth analysis of ‘The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate,’ and more reporting on influencers who are wary of working with President Joe Biden, this week’s youth vote headlines grapple with the 2024 state of play.
But before we get into it, let’s take a look at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics’ latest youth poll, which suggests that young people’s current enthusiasm to vote is lower than it was at this point in 2019.
The brand new poll shows that 49% of young people ages 18-29 "definitely" plan to vote in 2024, down from 57% who said the same in 2019, a warning sign for anyone looking to turnout young voters this cycle.
A step further, the IOP poll found that just 40% of young people not in college or without a degree say they "definitely" plan to vote in 2024, down from 48% who said the same in 2019. That’s reminiscent of recent data from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts (CIRCLE), which shows that "half of young people (ages 21-34) who didn’t vote in 2020 and say they’re unlikely to vote in 2024 have no college experience."
“The bad news is that fewer young people intend to vote in this election compared to the Biden-Trump election of 2020. The good news is there's still time, and we know what Gen Z and young millennials want to see and hear. They want evidence that democracy works, that government can address our challenges, and that there's a meaningful difference between the two parties,” IOP Pollster John Della Volpe, who writes JDV on Gen Z (check it out), said in a statement with the release of the new poll.
When it comes to a potential 2024 rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, though recent polls have suggested that Trump may be gaining ground with younger voters, the IOP poll shows that Biden leads Trump by 11 points (41% to 30%) amongst voters under 30. The IOP poll adds that 69% of young voters who expressed support for Biden said their vote would be more about “opposition to Donald Trump becoming president again,” as opposed to “support for President Biden and his policies.”
Beyond young people’s likelihood to vote and vote preference, the survey offers an expansive window into this slice of the electorate. It includes insights on young Americans’ support for most labor unions, addresses the reality that most young people feel their high school education did not prepare them well to be active citizens, and unveils a discrepancy between young Americans’ personal financial assessment and their views of the US economy.
While 70% of young Democrats and Republicans alike say their personal financial situation is “good,” 41% of young Democrats say the national economy is “good” and just 21% of young Republicans say the same.
I’ll be digging into more of the poll in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
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Week of 12/05
Democrats wrestle with young voters' mixed messages, Eugene Scott for Axios, 12/03
Progressive young activists have spent the past many weeks protesting over President Joe Biden’s steadfast support for Israel in its war against Hamas, saying the White House needs to change course if the president’s reelection campaign wants to win over young voters in 2024. But their vocal ire is coupled by strong support for Democrats down ballot in 2023 — especially in races where abortion rights were front and center, like in Ohio, Virginia, and Kentucky.
“Many Democratic activists say their takeaway from last month's contests wasn't just the potency of abortion rights at the ballot box — it was the enthusiasm young voters showed in backing the cause,” Scott explains.
With his analysis, Scott examines how young people’s “mixed messages” may be complicating how Democrats are thinking about the voting bloc, who’s loyalties are far from solidified. “It's unclear whether many young voters' interest in progressive ballot initiatives will be overrun by their dismay with a Middle East war that doesn't seem likely to end anytime soon,” Scott writes.
He adds that Biden’s dip with young progressives may offer inroads for the GOP with the youth voting bloc.
“Republicans are signaling that their efforts to attract young voters in 2024 will focus particularly on the youngest male voters, whom the GOP sees more socially conservative than most millennials,” Scott writes.
DeSantis, Newsom get mixed reviews from young voters after Great Red vs. Blue State Debate, Charles Creitz for Fox News, 12/02
Two 19-year-old California voters appeared on a Fox News panel last week to discuss the hot button Red vs. Blue state debate between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Democrat Andrew McDonald and Republican Parker McGinley both attend Fordham University. Neither McDonald nor McGinley said they plan to support DeSantis. McDonald said he’s “not a fan” of Newsom.
"I'm watching all the debates, but this debate mattered just as much as all the other Republican debates," said McDonald, who’s leaning toward voting for Biden. "I don't think that either of these men will be president in 2025."
Talking about DeSantis, McGinley, who’s leaning toward supporting former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, said:
"I was hoping that he'd show a little bit more of a charming character that we see in Trump, and right now he's just been pounding out — going for plays, going for ticks, trying to get on Instagram, trying to get on all these social media apps and trying to look like the harsh, Trumpier-than-Trump than any other Republican.”
Biden campaign struggles to keep young social media influencers in the fold, Camila DeChalus for CNN, 12/02
A number of influencers who have worked with the White House to tout President Biden’s accomplishments are “torn about whether to keep working with him,” DeChalus reports, echoing earlier stories on grumblings amongst social savvy creators. As I reported while at CNN, the Biden Harris administration has briefed influencers on the war in Ukraine and worked with creators to encourage vaccination against Covid.
“If the president is relying on influencers this time around, he’s going to have a tough time considering the state of the country right now and their disappointment in his administration at the moment,” Ashley Renne, a climate activist with 132K followers on Instagram, told CNN.
Kahlil Greene, ‘the Gen Z historian’ has more than 600K followers on TikTok. According to DeChalus he, “warned that if Biden wants to work with social media influencers to help amplify his campaign messaging as he did in 2020, the president and his team have to give social media influencers the creative freedom they need to make videos that feel authentic to their followers.”
But while some creators expressed caution, other political influencers like Olivia Julianna, who has 646.3K followers on TikTok, and V Spehar of Under the Desk News, who has 3M followers on TikTok, said they plan to maintain their support for the president.
Meanwhile, the Biden Harris reelection campaign said it’s on the precipice of more work with creators, including micro-influencers and “regional content creators.”
Quarter-Life Crises (with Peter Hamby), Sarah Longwell for ‘The Focus Group’, The Bulwark, 12/02
In the latest episode of ‘The Focus Group’ podcast, Longwell chats with Peter Hamby, host of Snapchat’s ‘Good Luck America’ and Puck’s ‘The Powers That Be.’ Despite Biden’s recent struggles with young voters in the polls, the episode features snippets from a number of progressive young people who say they plan to vote for the president.
In a segment about if they plan to vote and who they plan to vote for in 2024, one young voter said: “I think I’ll mainly be voting for kind of like the other things that are on the ballot and trying to get representatives in that represent my values because I don’t think the president is gonna really be able to do that.”
“I think a lot of the stuff we’ve seen the past four years, a lot of it is state individual, a lot of that is who we vote in locally,” said another.
In their conversation about the young voters, Hamby told Longwell: “I was interested to hear a lot of them say they were going to show up to vote for races down ballot even if they weren’t hyped about Joe Biden.”
He added: “They just get the stakes and the importance of voting and vote on issues and local politicians and local issues, I think more than they care about Joe Biden being at the top of the ballot.”
In Dubai, Harris deals with 2 issues important to young voters: climate and Gaza, Deepa Shivaram for NPR, 12/02
On the global stage at the COP28 conference last weekend, Vice President Kamala Harris continued her mission to court younger voters, leaning into two of their top priorities. “Vice President Harris on Saturday told leaders gathered at a United Nations summit that they should take a cue from young activists and do more to curb climate change,” Shivaram reports.
In remarks, Harris affirmed Israel’s need to “eliminate the threat of Hamas,” though she lamented the death of innocent civilians in Gaza.
“Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming from Gaza are devastating," the vice president said.
And on the issue of climate, Harris spoke highly about young people’s activism:
"They understand the urgency of this moment, and they fight with conviction, knowing we still have time to make a difference. So let us all share in their sense of urgency and their optimism. Let us all lead then with ambition and conviction," she said.