Democrats Facing Loss in Youth Support President Joe Biden smiles during the first news conference of his presidency on March 25, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
By Eric Mack | Sunday, 10 April 2022 08:22 AM
Young voters' support for President Joe Biden has not been this low for a Democrat president in decades, leading to fears the left is loosing its long-held stranglehold on the youth vote.
Pollster John Della Volpe sounded the warning to Democrats in February, noting under-30 voters delivered for them in 2018 and 2020, but they are no longer sure things, Politico reported.
Biden won the youth vote by 25 points in 2020, having turned out in record numbers, but myriad polls show that luster has been lost since, according Della Volpe, 54.
"There are more younger people in play than there were in the last two cycles," he told Politico.
"This cycle is different," he added, noting former President Donald Trump is no longer a foil for Democrats. "Democrats need to persuade them and mobilize them. That is the new reality."
Della Volpe has run the Harvard University's Institute of Politics Youth Poll since it began in 2000, along with former students like House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
Biden losing grip on the youth vote "should concern everyone," John Walsh, chief of staff for Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., told Politico.
"Government is not acting with the urgency this moment demands and they're frustrated, pissed off," he added.
"I worry that some people are not listening to John."
Democrat pollster Ben Tulchin told Politico he is concerned "about where young people are in terms of not feeling engaged or motivated right now."
"You have to give them a reason to show up now," he warned.
Free college tuition and student debt forgiveness are popular draws employed by Biden and Democrats before, and "would very quickly capture the attention of [young] people," according to Della Volpe.
"Right now, they say they'll vote — but if Democrats and Republicans ignore them, they won't turn out," he told Politico. "Right now, they're looking to vote.
"In large part, they have been following up on these issues, but it's about extending the conversation in new and different ways to remind people that we're not finished."
Also, not having Trump to run against might be troublesome for Democrats getting young voters out to back the agenda of the oldest president in U.S. history.
"The key question we're facing is if youth turnout in 2020 was driven more by opposition to Trump than strong enthusiasm for Biden," TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier told Politico.
The Biden administration did chum the waters by announcing another four-month extension to pause monthly loan payments and interest.
"Young people want to see action, and that's why we're yelling as loud as we can, 'please take action on student debt,' because this is within the power of the Biden administration," NextGen America President Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez told Politico.
Young voters "are losing hope" on Biden's promises to them, Sunrise Movement press secretary Ellen Sciales added to Politico.
"It's been over a year of a Democratic trifecta and young people are really disappointed because not much has been accomplished around student debt or on ambitious climate goals," Scales said.