Youth vote in the news: Week of 12/19
The latest New York Times/Siena College poll. And a slew of headlines - from NBC News to Rolling Stone to Bloomberg - weighing whether young people will turn out for President Joe Biden in 2024.
As we approach 2024, just about every youth vote headline is trying to answer the same question: Will young people once again turn out for President Joe Biden?
Experts say it’s too early to tell, but reporting, anecdotal evidence, and polling demonstrate that at this point in time, a vocal portion of progressive young people are deeply dissatisfied with the current state of affairs — which may spell trouble for President Joe Biden.
This week’s headlines overwhelmingly coalesce around that theme. The stories also acknowledge that while the president has made headway on issues like student debt cancellation and climate action, and has prioritized Democratic and human rights, much of that seems lost on some of the young people his administration’s policies are meant to impact.
💡A note on polling - especially in light of the most recent New York Times/Siena College poll out today, which shows former President Donald Trump is up over Biden 49% to 43% amongst registered voters under 30.💡
It’s worth wondering if traditional polling is reaching young voters who may actually cast a ballot for Biden next November. According to the fielding information from today’s New York Times/Siena College poll, “95 percent of respondents were reached on a cellular telephone.” Polling requires potential voters to respond, and our generation is exceptionally skeptical of traditional processes like these. When I think about my friends, siblings, and cousins under 30, there are very few who I can imagine willingly participating in a poll by phone.
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How Much Is Biden’s Support of Israel Hurting Him With Young Voters?, Nate Cohn for The New York Times, 12/19
As mentioned, a New York Times/Siena College poll released today has Trump leading Biden 49% to 43% amongst registered voters under 30.
“Usually, it’s not worth dwelling too much on a subsample from a single poll, but this basic story about young voters is present in nearly every major survey at this point,” writes Cohn, who’s the New York Times’ chief political analyst.
Cohn references a separate New York Times/Siena College poll from October that, at the time, showed Biden leading Trump among the same age demographic in battleground states by just one point.
Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, a clear generational divide has been brewing when it comes to Americans’ support for Israel — which has led many to wonder if young Americans who voted for the president in 2020 but who are critical of Israel will vote third party or withhold from voting altogether in 2024 as a result of Biden’s support for Israel.
As Cohn lays out today: “You might think that the young voters with these progressive or even left-wing views would be among the most likely to stick with Mr. Biden. At least for now, that’s not the case. The young Biden ’20 voters with anti-Israel views are the likeliest to report switching to Mr. Trump.”
💬 If you have thoughts on that, I’d love to hear from you. 💬
Young voters explain why they’re bailing on Biden — and whether they’d come back, Bianca Seward for NBC News, 12/18
Beyond criticism over his handling of the Israel-Hamas war, there are a myriad of other reasons young people are growing increasingly skeptical of the president. Through a series of colorful conversations with young Americans, Seward offers a fresh look at some of these concerns. Her reporting shows that young people expected more from this president than they feel they’ve received.
From a Starbucks worker and union organizer in Wisconsin, to a Californian who works at CalFire and feels strongly about the climate, to a mother in Nevada who’s family is living paycheck to paycheck, the young voters cited a failed promise on student debt cancellation, economic anxiety, concerns over the climate, and the president’s unwillingness to call for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas as reasons for their disappointment.
Experts weigh in too.
“Whether you like it or not, Biden has done a number of things, but young people are just far less likely to give him credit, good or bad, on anything that he’s done,”, director of the Survey Center on American Life at the American Enterprise Institute, told Seward.
The Gerontocracy Waged War on Gen Z. Now They’re Fighting Back, Cassady Rosenblum for Rolling Stone, 12/17
Between scenes from Voters of Tomorrow’s summer ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’ summit, which she aptly describes as “indistinguishable from a Model U.N. conference,” and anecdotes of young staffers’ experiences with older representatives on Capitol Hill, Rosenblum analyzes a schism between a growing portion of the American electorate and the decision makers in Washington, who are meant to represent them.
“Ten years younger than me, Gen Z is both alien and familiar. My generation grew up with the Olsen twins and Obama; theirs grew up with Greta Thunberg and Trump. We came of age believing the arc of the moral universe was bending toward justice; they came of age as it was doing a barrel roll,” Rosenblum writes.
Through descriptions of various youth-led social movements to interviews with experts including Harvard Kennedy School IOP pollster, and venture capitalist Bruce Cannon Gibney, who wrote the 2017 book Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America, Rosenblum’s analysis boils down to an examination of the perils of a representative government where the representatives are far older on average than the average American.
The young people Rosenblum spoke to for the piece (including Gen Z for Change’s Elise Joshi and Aidan Kohn Murphy and New York City Council member Chi Ossé) use words like “dire” and say that “mundane things, like going to school, seem pointless” when climate change is at stake, exhibiting this generation’s sense of urgency in combating major crises.
And yet, older members of Congress don’t always understand that, Rosenblum explains. A “lack of empathy can be infectious,” Rosenblum writes, outlining the feelings of one congressional staffer (who’s septuagenarian boss didn’t appear grasp to lofty cost of a modern college education).
Recognizing that while voters aren’t flocking to Rep. Dean Phillips’ in his long shot challenge to Biden for the Democratic nomination, Rosenblum probes how the Congressman from Minnesota’s crusade is based on a need for generational change.
“He knows one thing though: the solution to the gerontocracy starts with campaign-finance reform,” Rosenblum writes, adding that Phillips notes the hurdle fundraising often poises for young candidates and candidates of color.
“In uttering the quiet part out loud, Phillips is exposing a truth rarely admitted by politicians about power: Once you get it, you don’t let go. The fact that Democrats are as susceptible to its spells as Republicans is a problem in so far as their brand revolves around distinguishing themselves as the moral alternative to MAGA. Ironically, the tighter Biden clings to the White House, the vast, profound differences between him and Trump begin to flicker,” Rosenblum writes.
Biden Forgave Billions in Student Debt. Poll Shows It’s Not Enough For Gen Z, Nancy Cook, Jennah Haque, Gregory Korte, Denise Lu, Elena Mejía for Bloomberg Politics, 12/14
Despite Biden’s efforts to erase a historic amount of student loan debt, a recent poll from Bloomberg News and Morning Consult found that young voters in battleground states say it’s insufficient. Though Biden’s initial student debt forgiveness plan was blocked by the Supreme Court, he has been able to use other government tools for relief to forgive loans.
Yet, according to the poll, 43% of Gen Zers in swing states say President Joe Biden is doing “too little” to address student loans. Just 27% of all swing-state state voters say the same.
Meanwhile, asked “how much have you seen, read or heard about the Biden administration’s decision to cancel $127 billion in student loans,” 42% of Gen Z respondents said “not much” or “not at all.”
“The disconnect illustrates one of the core challenges of Biden’s campaign for a second term: He struggles to get credit from voters for policies intended to motivate them,” Cook, Hague, Korte, Lu, and Mejía report.
A few more
Can Trump reach young voters on the economy? He makes the case in New Hampshire., Karissa Waddick for USA TODAY, 12/16
Analysis: Young voters are unenthusiastic about Biden, but he will need them in 2024, Dan Balz for The Washington Post, 12/16
Are Young Voters Tuning Out 2024?, David Chalian in conversation with John Della Volpe for the CNN Political Briefing podcast, 12/14