These numbers are so gruesome that some expert pollsters just decline to believe them. “Young people simply did not get 40 points more Republican relative to the nation as a whole over the span of 2 years,” tweeted G. Elliott Morris about the brand-new Quinnipiac polls, pointing to the truth that Biden is -37 here among young adults however +2 among seniors. Trump won seniors by four points in 2020 while Biden won huge among the 18-34 group. Is it most likely that Biden has held steady (or even enhanced) amongst older Americans while the bottom has fallen out among more youthful ones?
We might have a sample issue here, in other words.
But if we do, it’s a “fake but accurate” thing: Quinnipiac’s sample may be overstating just how much ground Biden has lost amongst young Americans however he has lost a great deal of ground, as some other current polls have actually shown. And considering that young people are a core Democratic constituency, that ground can’t quickly be comprised elsewhere. If the kids don’t turn out for ol’ Uncle Joe’s party in November, it’s at danger of being obliterated.
Quinnipiac has Biden at 33 percent approval overall, another outlier-ish number in a bad indication for Dems. (He’s at 40.6 percent in the RCP average.) However, the majority of the oohing and ahhing this afternoon is scheduled for the split among adults aged 18-34:
He won them by 24 points 2 years ago. 2 years later, just seven percent say they “strongly approve” of Biden’s efficiency, the lowest share of any age group. His numbers amongst young people are so bad, in reality, that his net displeasure is really a few points higher than Trump’s was among the same group 4 years back.
It’s not that young adults are turning Republican, keep in mind Kristen Soltis Anderson, pointing out last week’s Quinnipiac data. They still prefer Democrats on the generic tally (the just age to do so, in reality). They’re simply disillusioned with Biden and maybe with politics in basic:
Despite their disillusionment with Biden, voters under 35 aren’t becoming some big GOP constituency – the problem for Democrats is less that they’ll vote Republican and more that they’ll stay home.
— Kristen Soltis Anderson (@KSoltisAnderson) April 13, 2022
You can take your pick about the reasons for that disillusionment. Progressives will inform you it’s due to the fact that the White House hasn’t moved far enough to the left, stopping working to pass Build Back Better or voting rights reform and doing nothing about student debt forgiveness. Centrists will offer you more fundamental arguments about inflation and gas costs consuming young adults’ weak incomes. No doubt there’s a reality to both arguments. But any place you arrive at that debate, the phenomenon of Biden bleeding support amongst Generation Z is genuine and it’s spectacular. CBS saw the trend in late January:
“Another eye-catching group consists of younger Americans, specifically people under 30. They turned out in record numbers in 2018 and 2020, and six in 10 of them voted for Biden. But their approval rating has dropped from 70% in February to just 42% now. This 28-point decline over the year is nearly double the size seen in other age groups, and unlike these older groups, the under-30 group’s ratings have slid even further since November.”
A Democratic internal survey taken in December found Biden’s approval amongst grownups under 30 at just 29/50, in line with today’s eye-popping Quinnipiac numbers and a crucial driver of Biden’s overall decline in task approval. More data from around the same time:
Here is my piece on our YouGov/Economist data showing a huge dropoff in support for Biden among young people. The decrease really is quite stunning: -50 points on net approval since January 26th (our first survey of his presidency).https://t.co/x5Ss0aB7sv
— G. Elliott Morris (@gelliottmorris) December 16, 2021
“Dwindling support among young voters is an existential concern for the Democratic Party,” said one analyst about those numbers. More recently, a YouGov poll taken this past weekend has Biden at 37/53 in overall job approval but the age demographic that’s most sour on him is — you guessed it — young adults. He’s at 31/53 among the 18-34 crowd, five points worse than his next worst age group. And again, young adults have the smallest share who say they “strongly support” Biden.
Democrats are keenly knowledgeable about this problem and are seeking advice from pollster John Della Volpe, who focuses on surveying young people, on what to do. In addition to the normal “listen to them, hear their concerns” yadda yadda, a technique is emerging: Allurement ’em.
“Della Volpe listed a handful of policy areas where potential executive actions from Biden “would very quickly capture the attention of [young] people.” The list includes student debt, mental health, climate change and dealing with the rising cost of living…
Major progressive outside groups, though, think Biden can go much further. They argue that he should cancel student debt altogether or work more aggressively on his climate agenda.
NextGen America’s president, Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, said “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.” Last week, the Biden administration announced another four-month extension of the pause on monthly loan payments and interest.”
Coincidentally, Chuck Schumer announced just this afternoon that pausing trainee loan payments is inadequate which “the canceling of student debt is the way to go,” adding that “the White House seems more open to it than ever before.” I’ll bet.
Another point. Look back to the Quinnipiac numbers at the top of this post and notice which racial group offers Biden the worst marks. Yep, it’s Hispanics– which is likewise part of a trend (in Quinnipiac polling, at least). I question we’ll see many Bernie-backing young people crossing over to vote GOP this fall; more likely is that their disaffection with Democrats will lead them to stay home. Hispanics might be a different story.