Gen Z Doesn’t Trust Biden – Here’s why


Gen Z: Demographic cohort born between the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2010s

The latest Harvard Youth poll has been released, revealing significant dissatisfaction with President Biden and the direction of the country and a precipitous drop in interest in voting among young people leading into the 2024 election. 

First, turnout among younger people is likely to be down – way down – compared to what it was in 2020. Only 49% of 18-29-year-olds say they “definitely” plan to vote, down a full eight percentage points from 57% in the fall of 2019.  

What is more, young people tend to over-shoot their likelihood to participate in elections. The actual turnout rate for 18-29 year-olds in 2020 was about 50% according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Given the latest polling, it is entirely possible youth turnout will be in the low 40s in the next election, which will have a significant impact on the Democratic Party’s chances.  

Voters 18-29 supported Biden over Trump by 24 percentage-points (60% to 36%) in 2020 and were one of the key coalitions that plopped Biden into the White House. Now, not only are young people significantly less interested in voting in 2024, but their support for Biden and Democrats is rapidly eroding – especially among young whites. Both factors pose serious threats to Biden’s reelection prospects. Here are three additional takeaways no one is covering from the youth poll.   

First, very young Americans are trending slightly more conservative than those a few years older. Gen Z voters – also known as Zoomers – represent the youngest half of those polled, ages 18-24. Zoomers are more likely to be pro-life, approve of the GOP, and say the U.S. is on the wrong track compared to slightly older voters according to the poll. While the margins are slim, this is more evidence that very young voters are trending less liberal, not more liberal, over time.    

According to the poll, voters 18-24 approve of Republicans by eight points more than voters ages 25-29 (31% compared to 23%). Zoomers are also more likely than voters ages 25-29 to say they are pro-life (29% to 23%). 

Zoomers are also more likely than slightly older voters to say the country is off on the wrong track (54% to 52%) and are four points less likely to say the country is going the right direction (11% to 15%). 

Second, on national security and the economy young people trust Trump over Biden by wide double-digit margins. Young people trust Trump over Biden to handle the economy by 15 percentage points (40% to 25%), and to handle national security by 10 percentage points (37% to 27%).   

Given that economic issues and the wars in Ukraine and Israel are key issues leading into the next election, young people’s lack of trust in Biden on these metrics could be disastrous for Democrats. 

Last, when isolating young white voters, Trump is ahead on virtually every metric. Young whites trust Trump over Biden on the economy by 25 percentage points (49% to 24%), on national security by 21 percentage points (45% to 24%), and on strengthening the working-class by 16 percentage points (43% to 27%).  

Young whites also trust Trump over Biden on crime by 15 percentage points (41% to 26%) and on immigration by 17 percentage points (44% to 27%). Young whites trust Trump over Biden on the Israel-Hamas war by 13 percentage points (36% to 23%) and on the Russia-Ukraine war by seven percentage points (37% to 30%).   

Young Americans – whether they choose to vote or not – will have a significant impact on the 2024 election. They represent over 40 million eligible voters, including over 8 million new voters who were ineligible to vote in 2022 or 2020. Young people, especially whites and those under age 25, are souring on the Biden Administration and could significantly obstruct Democrats by staying home or moving toward the GOP at the margins.   

Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.

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