Why young voters probably won’t cost Democrats in 2022
Such headlines are not surprising when a president is struggling in the polls. People always want to find an explanation for what is wrong.
The young voters debate is where we begin our statistical journey this week, and why all may not be what it seems at first glance.
Biden has a young voter problem, but Democrats don’t
Biden’s popularity among young Americans has gone from being higher than any other age group to being lower than nearly every other age group.
Sometimes, however, approval ratings don’t tell the whole story. If so, those approval ratings could suggest the Democrats will lose among young voters in the midterm elections. A look at the generic ballot, on the other hand, indicates that would be a mistake.
Biden’s approval rating among voters under 30 was 39%. This, of course, is very similar to Gallup’s reading of this age group.
When voters under 30 were asked who they would vote for in their congressional district, Democrats held a 48% to 29% advantage over Republicans. That 48% vote share and 19-point lead was better from Democrats than responses from any other age group.
Democrats won the National House vote among voters under 30, the source said, between 22 (catalist) and 26 (network exit polls) points in 2020. That averages a margin of 24 points.
That the current Democratic lead among young voters is 7 points below their 2020 margin with this group makes a lot of sense. The political environment has shifted against the party, as the generic Congressional poll shows Democrats faring worse among all voters by a similar margin — around 5 to 6 points.
If nothing else, it’s a sign that while Biden isn’t liked by most young Americans, Republicans are nowhere near closing the deal with them.
That’s not to say all is well for Democrats among young voters ahead of the midterm elections.
Just 10% of voters under 30 said they were extremely excited about voting this fall in CNN’s latest poll on the subject. A higher percentage of voters overall (24%) indicated that they were extremely enthusiastic.
That doesn’t mean the enthusiasm of young voters won’t dip further or that Biden’s unpopularity won’t affect them. It’s just that for now, that’s not the case. The Democrats have bigger fish to fry, with the national political environment turning against them.
Don’t count Biden for 2024
At a minimum, Biden would be a heavy favorite to win his party’s nomination if he ever runs.
Sitting presidents who lost a primary or dropped out of the race for another term all had approval ratings among their party’s voters below 70%. (George HW Bush, who didn’t lose a primary but was challenged by Pat Buchanan in 1992, had an approval rating in the 70s.)
When it comes to general elections, keep in mind that most presidents who go in November have been re-elected. They won about two-thirds of the time. This general percentage holds true whether you are looking at elections from the last 40 years or the last 100 years.
Trump nearly got there, despite still low approval ratings and facing a global pandemic and a lackluster economy in his re-election year.
Ultimately, I have no idea who will win 2024, although betting on an incumbent president is usually a pretty decent bet.