Young, progressive voters are speaking out with increasing urgency about the lack of interest in voting for President Joe Biden, adding that they would rather see former President Donald Trump elected even if it means enduring another four years of the Republican in the White House.
In polls conducted by NBC News, voters between the ages of 18 and 34 are breaking for Trump over Biden, 36% to 34%, a result within the margin of error but still disastrous for the president’s reelection campaign. Democratic candidates can typically rely on the youngest cohort of national voters to support them by double-digit margins, and exit polling from the 2020 election showed Gen Z voters supporting Biden by a 20-point margin.
Reached for comment, many expressed ambivalence about reelecting the 81-year-old Democrat, saying he has failed to deliver on campaign promises around climate change, student debt, or codifying federal protections for abortion.
“It’s so complicated, because it almost feels like if I were to give my vote for Biden, I will be showing the Democratic Party that what they are putting out is enough, which is the bare minimum in my opinion,” said Camarena, a 24-year-old living outside the Bay Area.
“I genuinely could not live with myself if I voted for someone who’s made the decisions that Biden has,” said McKenzie, a 23-year-old working at Starbucks and as a union organizer in Madison, Wisconsin. “I didn’t even feel great about” voting for Biden in 2020, he said.
“I want to show the Democratic Party as a young person that you still need to earn our vote and if you don’t, the consequences will be your career,” McKenzie added. “A Republican getting elected isn’t the end. It is the beginning of a much larger fight.”
Focus groups of young voters have revealed that the White House’s support of Israel against Hamas may be taking the greatest toll of all on the president’s fortunes.
“We’ve been seeing this in our data and focus groups actually since May,” said Ashley Aylward, a senior researcher at the Democratic polling firm HIT Strategies. “And to me, it’s because the 2024 campaign season for Democrats hasn’t started yet.”
“This is the alarm bell that we needed to make sure that not only the Biden campaign, but every other Democratic operative out there and all the campaigns down the ballot — state and local — actually invest in young people, because we know how much they can change the outcome,” Aylward added.
Some of the largest setbacks in the history of the Democratic Party have occurred on Biden’s watch. In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Roe v. Wade, returning the issue of abortion to state-level politics. In the face of record inflation, President Biden aggressively expanded drilling for fossil fuels on federal lands, reneging on a promise of transitioning the nation toward a green economy. After attempting to cancel up to $40,000 in student debt per individual, Biden’s executive order was invalidated by the Supreme Court, and he has so far delivered piecemeal solutions while payments have resumed at a time when many Americans are still struggling financially.
When asked how he felt about his loan repayments beginning soon, Kapp groaned: “Oh, yeah, that was another thing.”
“It’s kind of sad to see that the quote unquote lesser of two evils that we were all promised, is this,” Kapp said of Biden.