Youth vote in the news: Week of 12/26
Rural areas are ripe with youth-led protests for Palestine. House Democrats chime in on Biden's youth vote conundrum. And could Trump really be gaining ground with young people?
In order to win reelection, President Joe Biden would benefit from the support of a broad youth coalition. While it’s highly unlikely that young progressives would vote for former President Donald Trump (given that he stands against everything they stand for), if young progressives abstain from voting for Biden or vote third party, it could catapult the president’s chances at securing another four years in the White House.
The question is, are there enough young Americans somewhere in the middle to ensure that’s not the case? And will young progressives ultimately come around and give the president a chance at four more years?
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In 2020, there were young conservative voters with groups like College Republicans for Biden that were so fed up with Trump, they felt like they had no home in the Republican Party and had no choice but to vote for Biden. I’m not so confident that those young conservatives would do the same this time around.
Meanwhile, the loud progressives who critiqued Biden in 2020, calling on him to champion campaign promises like student debt cancellation and historic climate action, feel let down by what they call a broken promise on student debt, what they say is insufficient climate action, and the president’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war.
While young-Trump supporters and young progressives may disagree on almost every political issue (and while they may have dramatically different views on Israel and Palestine, despite what certain polls and headlines may lead one to believe), it’s becoming more and more clear that they are equally as comfortable sharing their dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden.
In part, this week’s headlines demonstrate that reality:
Young U.S. Muslims are rising up against Israel in unlikely places, Tim Craig and Clara Ence Morse for The Washington Post, 12/25
Through conversations with first and second-generation Muslim Americans and Muslim scholars, Craig and Ence Morse paint a picture of how young Muslims in America are taking up the mantle of the Palestinian solidarity movement.
“Across the nation, from the Deep South to Appalachia and relatively rural communities in the Midwest, protests in support of the plight of Palestinians are springing up, showcasing the continued spread of the U.S. Muslim population into the country’s heartland. Children of refugees from Muslim nations organized many of the demonstrations, evidence of a political awakening among a new generation of young Americans who are helping to shape U.S. public opinion in support of a cease-fire in the Middle East,” Craig and Ence Morse report.
The piece details how this generation’s upbringing in a U.S. more friendly to Muslim populations than prior generations (and with more Muslim Americans, especially in certain areas), has led them to feel more comfortable speaking out about human rights and international affairs that affect the international Muslim community than their parents and grandparents.
“Just because we live here in the U.S. doesn’t mean we are isolated or separated,” Hammad Chaudhry, a 24-year-old second-generation Pakistani American at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, told The Washington Post. “We live in a globalized world where the tiniest thing somewhere can have a massive impact somewhere else.”
“I feel like Oxford, Mississippi, especially considering where it is, is a very pivotal place for something like this,” said second-generation Palestinian American, Khalil Abualya, who according to The Post is a 23-year-old senior at ‘Ole Miss’. “We can show the dialogue is open here too,” he said.
What Democrats in Congress Think About Biden’s Alarming Young Voter Problem, Grace Segers for The New Republic, 12/21
Through a series of conversations with Reps. Becca Balint of Vermont (the first Jewish member of Congress to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war), Maxwell Frost of Florida (the first Gen Zer in Congress) and Pat Ryan of New York (who represents a district home to many colleges), Segers demonstrates how Congressional Democrats are acknowledging and confronting Biden’s low marks with young Americans who are fed up with a system of government they feel isn’t working in their best interest. Citing the Israel-Hamas war, the slow pace of legislation on gun safety and climate action, as well as the Supreme Court slashing Biden’s initial student loan forgiveness plan, Segers’ reporting examines how and why young people are dissatisfied, and what Congressional Democrats have to say about that reality.
While Balint said she sees where young people are coming from with regard to the U.S. response to the situation in Gaza, it’s important for members of Congress to point out the clear difference between Biden and his potential 2024 opponent. “I’m not trying to be dismissive of young voters at all,” said Balint. “I certainly understand that impulse, and that is on us to make the case that … these two options [for president] are not equally bad.”
“We’ve got to make sure that voters, especially young people, see themselves as part of the fight, rather than fighting to make [their priorities] happen,” said Frost.
Ryan pointed out that it’s not just the president young people have a problem with: “The trust in institutions to get it right is so low,” he said.
The Memo: Trump gets surprise boost with young voters amid Biden disillusionment, Niall Stanage for The Hill, 12/20
Citing last week’s New York Times/Siena College poll that demonstrated waning youth support for Biden and an increase in youth support for Trump, Stanage poses a critical question: “Why is Biden doing so badly with younger voters, and why is Trump doing so well?” He quotes progressive Justice Democrats’ Usamah Andrabi, youth-led climate group Sunrise Movement’s Michele Weindling, and 2020 Trump supporter Camryn Kinsey, to demonstrate the varying reasons young voters have lost confidence in Biden (or continue to prefer his most likely opponent). His reporting shows that these progressives currently list Biden’s support for Israel, while Trump supporters cite the economy.
“Young progressives have a diametrically different worldview than Trump supporters such as Kinsey. But they do share an unexpected sliver of common ground in arguing that a lack of real change from Biden has left an opening for Trump,” Stanage writes.
He quotes Weindling, who said, “The larger risk is young people staying out of the election, but this poll [in the New York Times] is showing some fraction voting for Trump instead. And what I take from that is that young people feel Democrats have failed to make tangible differences to their lives in the past four years,” and said that Andrabi called youth support for Trump, “largely a reflexive rejection against Biden rather than substantive support for the former president.”
“Young people are saying this presidency is not what we want,” Andrabi said. “The way President Biden is acting is not what we want.”
Your input 💬
Gearing up for 2024, what are the topics and storylines you’re most curious about? Youth vote dynamics you’re most interested in? Groups of young people who aren’t getting enough attention you think I should check in with? Please let me know, and I’ll do my best to cover them.