President Joe Biden isn’t faring too well in the court of public opinion. The nation’s overall opinion of his performance has been sinking like a boulder thrown into the Pacific – and the most devastating development is that young voters – a demographic typically favorable towards Democrats – are starting to say “no” to Uncle Joe. If the president can’t turn this trend around, it might also spill over to the rest of the party. This could be good for Republicans, but only if they’re willing to put in the work to turn Biden’s loss into their gain.
Biden’s Youth Support Plummeting
A poll conducted by The Economist and YouGov showed that Biden is quickly losing popularity with voters under the age of 30. A majority of participants indicated they disapprove of his performance in office so far. The report noted:
“In 2020, Joe Biden repeated his predecessor’s success with the group—who were largely motivated by disapproval of his opponent, Donald Trump—and won the White House. The election was so close that every young voter counted. But Mr Biden’s failure to impress the young now threatens his presidency.”
The survey showed that only 29% of adults under the age of 30 approved of Biden’s performance as president. On the other hand, 50% disapproved. These results represent the worst for any age group, according to the report:
“Adults aged between 30 and 44 give Mr Biden a -17 rating; those aged 45 to 64 come in at -5; and among adults aged 65 and over, the president is eight points underwater. This is a sharp reversal from the beginning of the year, when young voters gave Mr Biden a net approval rating 32 points higher than older people did. And Mr Biden is falling out of favour fastest with the youngest groups.”
Many of the respondents told YouGov that their biggest concerns were climate change and health care, areas in which Biden has not delivered on his promises. This age group is also concerned about civil rights and abortion and “may be energized by recent Supreme Court rulings on the latter,” according to The Economist. Student loan debt is also a significant issue for younger voters, and Biden’s failure to cancel $10,000 owed by each student is not doing him any favors.
It is also worth noting that youth support for Biden might never have been as high as it seemed. His support among young voters was highest when former President Donald Trump was the other option – so a vote for Biden might have actually been a vote against Trump. For 2020, that appears a distinction without a difference – but what might it mean in 2024?
What About the Future?
Needless to say, these results do not portend a positive future for the Democratic Party in the upcoming midterm elections and even the 2024 presidential elections – whether Biden seeks re-election or decides to call it a day. But what does this mean for the GOP?
The Republican Party has struggled to win over young voters for decades; it has been one of the Democrats’ most powerful advantages. This was especially apparent during the 2020 election. The Los Angeles Times reported:
“Democrats in 2020 won young voters’ support by about 25 percentage points, in part because a majority of the generation believes progressive policies best address their economic needs. Anti-immigrant rhetoric from GOP leaders, coupled with support by white nationalists, didn’t help with the most racially diverse generation in U.S. history: About 45% of millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) and nearly half of Gen Zers (those born after 1996) are people of color, compared with 30% of baby boomers.”
Leftist bias aside, The Times is right about the numbers. Growing dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party might present an opportunity for the GOP if it plays its cards right. If the conservative movement can create a strategy that would appeal more to young voters, it can begin the process of peeling off more of these individuals from the left.
Some in the party seem to realize the importance of courting the youth. “No doubt about it, it is going to be an uphill battle with young people,” Andrew Kolvet, spokesman for Turning Point USA, told The Times. “But there is budding optimism on the conservative side. We are finally starting to fight back.”
Turning Point USA is one of several youth-oriented conservative groups trying to connect with this age group on college campuses and elsewhere. However, judging by last year’s results, it is clear that the right must do more if it is going to attract more voters from this demographic. If it does not take advantage of this trend, it seems likely that after Biden is gone, younger voters might gravitate back to the Democratic Party.
~ Read more from Jeff Charles.