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Biden boycott vote resonates with young Americans

Organized efforts to boycott voting for President Biden appear to be resonating the most with young voters who turned out at the ballot box in recent months in state primaries across the U.S.

The efforts in places like Michigan, Washington, Minnesota and Massachusetts show protest votes had the highest concentration in areas where young people live. And, Biden is not helped by polls that suggest voters under 35 are gravitating more toward former President Trump.

The trend shows Biden losing ground with young voters, who appear to be some of his most vocal critics on issues ranging from the war in Gaza to climate change and inflation, raising alarm among Democrats.

“It is certainly concerning, it should be for the White House and for the president that his numbers aren’t as good as they were last time around. But, it’s on the president to make those changes and on the campaign to adjust, to bring these folks back in so we have the coalition that we need to be able to beat Trump in November,” said Paco Fabian, director of campaigns at Our Revolution.

Our Revolution is a progressive political organizing group founded by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and is one of several organizing efforts behind the protest vote initiatives.

Michigan, Washington, Minnesota and Massachusetts were four of the five states where the “uncommitted” movement has been the most successful. Those voters came from areas where the population of young people is heavy, like Capitol Hill in Seattle and University District, where the University of Washington is, according to an analysis by the New York Times.

Biden’s lack of enthusiasm with young voters has been apparent during the election cycle so far. But the primary protest vote numbers may not necessarily mean they’ll cast a ballot for Trump in November. Instead, they may just opt out of voting all together, which could prove more problematic to Biden.

“I think it’s pretty clear that young people are not big fans of former President Trump. So if there is a loss of the youth vote, it’s going to be because it didn’t turn out, not because they chose to vote for Trump,” Fabien said. “It’s on Biden to make those adjustments to start talking about the issues folks really care about.”

Some Democrats view the protest votes during the primary as a way to send a message to Biden, but that it isn’t indicative of how young people will vote in November. 

“People voicing their concerns or who are not feeling like they’re sufficiently heard, that’s a signal to the Biden campaign, look, these are the voters we need to try out. So let’s start talking. Let’s see how we can break through,” said David Thomas, a Democratic strategist “I’m not overly alarmed because I think there’s time… I think the majority of them will be back in his camp.”

In response to the protest vote initiative during the primary season, the Biden campaign has said that the president believes in “making your voice heard.”

“He shares the goal for an end to the violence and a just, lasting peace in the Middle East.  He’s working tirelessly to that end,” a campaign spokesperson said of voters upset with him over the war in Gaza.

An Axios-Generation Lab survey of voters under 35 found Biden leading Trump by just 4 points, with 52 percent of respondents saying they would vote for Biden and 48 saying they would vote for Trump. 

But a New York Times/Siena poll in December found Trump leading Biden by 6 percentage points among voters under 30 and an NBC News poll in November found Trump leading Biden by 4 percentage points among voters under 35.

It’s a voting bloc Biden can’t afford to lose. Young voters were a key demographic that Biden carried by a margin of 20 percentage points in 2020, according to the Pew Research Center.

“Considering that younger voters are perhaps one of the most key and consequential voting blocks in any given election, you always have to be concerned that there’s a difference between being concerned and worried,” said Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright.

He added that young people, while they might be upset with Biden over his Middle East policies, have showed up for Democrats in the past and will see the sense of urgency to show up in November.

“Historically young voters have been on the front lines of change, leading every major social movement in this country, but also have been on the front lines of pushing back on populous pop up movements that have been detrimental to this country,” Seawright said.

When young voters listed their top interests in 2024, foreign policy didn’t rank the highest. An Economist/YouGov poll last month found that only one percent of people ages 18 to 29 ranked foreign policy as the most important issue to them, while issues like inflation, the economy, and health ranked the highest.

Young voters want to see changes made to reproductive rights, health care and inflation, according to a poll this month of voters under 40 living in Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and competitive districts in California. 

Additionally, other states with an “uncommitted” organized movement didn’t see the same results among young people. North Carolina, a state with a growing young professional population and where the Biden campaign is eying a potential flip in 2024, did not have a strong turnout for “uncommitted” in the primary, The Washington Post reported.

Biden though is taking steps to ease some tensions with Americans who don’t approve of his handling of the war in Gaza. He has recently upped his criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he was “hurting Israel more than helping.” 

His administration is also actively urging Netanyahu and his war cabinet against a major assault on Rafah, an area housing more than one million people that fled war from the enclave’s north at Israel’s direction.

Meanwhile, Biden’s campaign has stepped up its outreach to young voters, especially with the controversial move to be active on TikTok. The campaign makes short videos almost daily that usually includes clips of a remark from Trump for quick consumption on social media platforms.

Thomas, who was a former aide to Vice President Al Gore, noted that back during former President Clinton’s campaign in the 1990s, Clinton would go on MTV to appeal to the youth vote. He noted that now, the voting bloc has changed.

“I think today’s new voters or today’s younger voters who are in their 20s, maybe voting for their first time, second time or third time, they’re smarter on issues. They are more organized both individually and collectively,” he said.

“The majority of them are going to look at the issues and realize that this election, where so much is at stake, they will be in the Biden camp at the end of the day,” he added.

Source: The Hill

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