According to the latest Siena College/New York Times poll, 94% of Democrats under the age of 30 want someone else to run in 2024 instead of Biden. It’s just one in a series of disastrous cross tabs in a poll that shows Democrats are losing their hold on younger voters.
This doesn’t mean those young people are going to flock to the Republican banner. But the 18-29 age group was never known to be politically active before this past decade. Then, in 2016, the turnout of younger voters shot up and pollsters began to talk about a realignment. Now, it appears that the young may be so disgusted with politics and political leaders that they’re going to drop out of politics altogether.
The three younger generations – those ages 18 to 53 in 2018 – reported casting 62.2 million votes, compared with 60.1 million cast by Baby Boomers and older generations. It’s not the first time the younger generations outvoted their elders: The same pattern occurred in the 2016 presidential election.
Higher turnout accounted for a significant portion of the increase. Millennials and Gen X together cast 21.9 million more votes in 2018 than in 2014. (The number of eligible voter Millennials and Gen Xers grew by 2.5 million over those four years, due to the number of naturalizations exceeding mortality.) And 4.5 million votes were cast by Gen Z voters, all of whom turned 18 since 2014.
To be sure, Gen Z voters never embraced Biden. But enough of them voted for him in 2020 to allow him to claim victory. Now, the cynicism of the younger generation is returning.
“A lot of the young people that I’m talking to in particular right now are asking what the point is of having a Democratic trifecta if our rights are still being ripped away,” Ellen Sciales, communications director at the youth climate activist group, the Sunrise Movement, told The Hill.
“Like, what’s the point of voting? And obviously, we’re pushing people to vote, but it’s going to make it so much harder for us to do our jobs,” she said.
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You might think that the younger voters are focused on Biden’s age. But the poll showed that they’re far more concerned about his job performance. Young Democrats in the poll were the least likely to cite Biden’s age as the main reason for wanting someone else to vote for.
Just look at the legions of younger voters who support 80-year-old Bernie Sanders and 73-year-old Elizabeth Warren. Young voters may be cynical about politics, and they may be apathetic about politicians, but is that because they’re unconcerned or is it that the politicians are failing them?
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) has pointed to several programs geared toward attracting the youth vote ahead of the November midterm elections. The DNC said it launched a “social ambassador program” to train young volunteers on social media and plans to host youth voter training sessions beginning at the end of July, with the inaugural event featuring Warren as a guest speaker. The party apparatus is also organizing on college campuses across battleground states like Pennsylvania, Arizona and Wisconsin.
And the DNC joined TikTok earlier this year in a bid to reach more young voters through new forms of media.
Some say worries about Biden and young voters are overstated and not a sign of disengagement ahead of the midterms.
That’s wishful thinking. In fact, Democrats should be worrying about disengagement for the long term. These younger Americans have been taught that their nation is evil, their history is a lie, and their heroes are worthless trash. They’ve been told their values are dated, and that the nation needs to be transformed to save it.
“Taking away” a right that never existed becomes just another in a long line of oppressions by white males and Christianity. Overcoming that narrative will take a lot more than forgiving student loan debt or enshrining the right to kill your baby in law.
Biden is a symptom of a much larger and more complex problem. Young people are unmoored from their own history. As long as Democrats profit by separating the young from the revolutionary nature of their past by trying to denigrate it, Democrats may win elections with their support, but then what?
What is it they will defend? Without the foundation that Americans have cherished for 246 years, there is only an empty shell.