Why Joe Biden Desperately Needs The Youth Vote – In 2024, President Joe Biden will need every vote he can get to beat likely adversary Donald Trump in what is currently predicted to be a neck-and-neck election.
For the 81-year-old incumbent, that will include securing the vote from people 63-years younger than him. Quite a challenge, particularly when the youth vote has historically had a low turnout.
That said, young adults aged 18-29 played a massive role in Biden’s electoral victory in 2020. For Biden, a repeat is needed to ensure four more years of Democratic government in the White House.
When done right, senior politicians can connect with youth voters. It wasn’t just Bernie Sanders’ deeply progressive policies that made him popular in his presidential campaigns in 2016 and 2020; Reddit Q&As and excessive use of social media allowed him to connect with young voters, leading to rallies that trumped even Hillary Clinton in terms of attendance on occasion.
The then-74-year-old Ed Markey is another notable example. The Senator for Massachusetts’s stances on LGBT rights and climate change may have appealed to youth voters.
Still, they were only able to engage with his campaign through his unconventional ads featuring popular songs and impressive guitar solos.
Both politicians are roughly the same age as Biden. A generational divide, even if by six decades, is less prevalent when a politician can engage with their younger voters.
Issues Play Into Joe Biden’s Favor
The hardline Republican stance on controversial issues works in the Democrats’ favor. Young people opposed to bans on abortion voted overwhelmingly in favor of Democratic candidates in 2022 by a four to one margin. Climate change is another which Biden holds a natural advantage, especially given the Republicans’ youngest candidate’s effective denial of its existence.
It’s still early days, but Biden’s likely rival is something he can also work into his favor. Young people typically learn their news from digital platforms such as X (formerly known as Twitter), YouTube and Facebook – two of which the former president is banned from. They’re less attracted to Truth Social, or Fox and Friends, so Biden can wage a social media war on his expected opponent who does not have a full digital arsenal at his disposal.
Politicians can connect with younger voters through unconventional means. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez notably streamed video games during the pandemic in order to get young people to vote, for example. Granted, nobody is expecting President Biden to pick up a controller and spend the rest of his tenure playing Call of Duty, but appearances at concerts or collaborations with influencers will at least give him a sense of authenticity, spread his message, and drive the youth to the ballot boxes.
Biden effectively has an open goal with the youth vote. They’re unlikely to flock to Trump or any hard-right Republicans, but that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to vote for Biden. Mandatory voting is not in play, so if the youth don’t feel heard, they won’t bother to turn up.
It’s a crucial demographic for the President in such a close race. Every vote will count, and maximizing your natural supporters is important in any election campaign. If Biden doesn’t capitalize on this, his presidency is over.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
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