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Youth vote in the news 🗞
As the 2024 cycle kicks into high gear, I'm launching a weekly rundown of key stories about young voters.
With less than a year until the 2024 election, there’s already a steady stream of youth vote content in the news. And as the cycle kicks into high gear, there will likely be a lot more of it. In turn, I’m launching a regular youth vote in the news update, brought to you weekly. Stay tuned, and as always, please send any stories you see my way.
Week of 11/14
Influencers Boosted Biden in 2020. Now Some Are Turning on Him, Tessa Stuart for Rolling Stone, 11/14
Social media savvy creators have been key to President Joe Biden’s good standing with young voters throughout his administration’s first term, touting his accomplishments to millions of their followers with frequency. But Biden’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war (which has exposed a generational divide in Americans’ support for Israel) coupled with younger voters’ overall frustration with the status quo (as well as the lack of a competitive Democratic primary process), has some of the president’s once vocal allies struggling with audience comments and weighing whether or not they will use their social media clout to boost his chances in 2024. Stuart highlights TikToker George Lee Jr., vegan cookbook author and climate activist Ashley Renne, Under the Desk News host V Spehar, and law-school student A.B. Burns-Tucker in this look at the dynamics at play. While young voters usually align with the president on key issues, with Israel and Palestine in particular, Stuart reports, it’s a different story.
“In the past, when young people have been passionate about something — say gun control — Biden has had the benefit to immediately jump in and say, ‘I’m going to ban ghost guns,’ and ‘I want to see gun restrictions,’ and to show that he’s on their side,” said Spehar, who has 3 million followers on TikTok. “In this case, it is not that easy to immediately align with [young voters demonstrating their] passion.”
New York Group Launches $9 Million Youth Voter Drive, Daniel Marans for The Huff Post, 11/13
End Citizens United/Let America Vote Action Fund (the advocacy arm of Democratic End Citizens United) is launching a youth voter registration effort focused on battleground House districts in New York — after New York Democrats lost seats in key Empire State districts in the 2022 midterms. The nonpartisan initiative, called Organize New York, aims to reach 20,000 students ages 18-26 in congressional districts including big schools such as Syracuse, Binghampton, and SUNY New Paltz.
“New York is the center of the political universe. We have more swing districts than any other state,” former New York Rep. and senior advisor to Organize New York, Max Rose, told The Huff Post. “The days of elected officials being able to take this for granted are far gone.”
According to Marans, Organize New York will highlight issues critical to young voters, such as: “the need to get money out of politics, fight climate change, curb gun violence, protect abortion rights, and obtain student loan relief.”
Missing in action: How absent young voters swung Seattle politics, Danny Westneat for The Seattle Times, 11/11
Low youth voter turnout in Seattle last week likely contributed to a shift back to the middle in a city that for the past 10 years, had been nearly as progressive as it gets. “Young voting plunged. Voters ages 25 to 34 dropped off by 27% compared with 2019. The number of ballots returned by the 18-to-24 set, known to be the most progressive group, fell by 31% countywide,” Westneat writes. He explores why young voters may have stayed home — and his analysis offers warning signs for 2024. Perhaps it was because the candidates were too similar or an overall mistrust in the City Council.
“Other theories are that protest movement politics can’t sustain itself forever, so Seattle’s progressives are taking a rest. Or that the far left was focused on Gaza and the Middle East. Or that everyone is flat-out exhausted — from resisting Trumpism, from the pandemic, from the George Floyd protest era, from it all.”
Why Gen Z Loves Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Andrew Stanton for Newsweek, 11/08
In a New York Times/Siena College poll last week, RFK Jr., who’s now running as an Independent, performed better with young voters ages 18-29 than President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. “The poll, which surveyed 3,662 registered voters across six battleground states from October 22 to November 3, found Kennedy winning support from 34 percent of voters age 18 to 29. Only 30 percent of voters in that age group said they planned to back Biden, and 29 percent expressed intent to vote for Trump, according to the poll,” Stanton writes.
But why? Perhaps, Stanton reports, young Americans don’t currently see themselves reflected in either party.
"Young people could be just reacting to the utter dissatisfaction with the parties, and with these two much older, historically older, candidates," said Mindy Romero, director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy at the University of Southern California. "Beyond that, I think Kennedy has gained recognition because of his last name, but there's a lot to learn about who he is and what he stands for."