Max Keating, DCNF
- President Joe Biden had a 30% advantage among under-30 voters in 2020, but that support has evaporated.
- Now Biden’s approval rating is lower in the youth demographic than his overall rate.
- Polls suggest that the economy, Biden’s inability to deliver on campaign promises and general political frustration among youth are to blame.
Young voters were President Joe Biden’s most reliable supporters in 2020 but many have now soured on the president for three key reasons as he approaches the midpoint of his first term, numerous polls indicate.
Around 60% of 18- to 29-year-old voters backed Biden in 2020, making this younger group of Americans the age demographic he carried the most comfortably, but now Biden’s approval rating among younger voters is worse than his overall rate — 37% versus 38% — according to FiveThirtyEight. This decline in support is likely due to a perceived mishandling of the economy, a failure to fulfill campaign promises and general political disillusionment, recent polling data shows.
Young voters almost unanimously do not want Biden to run again in 2024, with 94% of voters age 18-29 hoping that someone else is at the top of the Democratic ticket, according to one New York Times poll.
How badly are Democrats bombing with young voters right now?
New Quinnipiac poll says Ds lead Rs in the general congressional vote by just 7 points among Americans under 35. And 18% (!) are undecided.
By contrast, in 2018 Ds won voters under 30 by well over 30 points.
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) July 21, 2022
The economy is top of mind for younger voters as here, too, they have soured on Biden even more dramatically than the general electorate. Last week’s YouGov/The Economist survey showed that just 34% of Americans aged 18 to 29 approved of the way Biden was handling jobs and the economy, less than the 37% of voters overall.
“Like the rest of Americans, young voters are also suffering the inflationary consequences of the Biden administration’s policies,” Heritage Action Executive Director Jessica Anderson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Aside from gas and groceries, young Americans are increasingly worried about how they are going to take their next steps into adulthood by buying a home, and some are worried about future job prospects if we head into a recession.”
Younger voters have also been let down by Biden’s inability to fulfill various campaign promises. Harvard’s spring 2022 poll of 18- to 29-year-olds found that of those that did not approve of Biden’s performance, the second largest reason behind “ineffectiveness” — which encompasses poor stewardship of the economy — was “not following through on campaign promises.”
“President Biden has made a lot of empty promises and the only policies he and Congress have been able to deliver on have made America weaker at home and abroad,” Anderson told the DCNF. “This administration has taken away key economic opportunities for Americans and fostered a woke and divisive culture that empowers groupthink. It is unsurprising that these tactics are driving younger voters away from their party and candidates.”
Specifically, Biden’s as-yet unfulfilled promise to forgive some student loan debt is a priority for many younger voters, Dakota Hall, executive director for the Alliance for Youth Action, told Vox.
“Biden thinks he can just buy off younger voters with student loan forgiveness, but he will only be making inflation worse and young voters will see through this election-year gimmick and pay more in the long run,” Anderson told the DCNF.
American youth are also increasingly disillusioned with politics in general. Harvard’s spring polling found that fully 57% of young people agreed with statements that “politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing,” and that “the government does not represent the America I love.”
The emergent cross-partisan “frustration that young people have about government in general” is likely dampening Biden’s favorability ratings among youth, Harvard’s John Della Volpe, who consulted for the Biden campaign, told FiveThirtyEight.
Neither the Young Democrats of America nor the College Democrats of America responded to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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