Something is happening among young voters in America — even if, to paraphrase the old Bob Dylan song, we don’t know what it is.
Consider: Youth turnout exploded during the 2018 midterm elections under President Donald Trump. Then in 2020, energized opposition to Trump among young voters was critical to his defeat. And in the 2022 midterms, surging youth participation helped fend off the widely predicted “red wave.” Even some Republicans fear that expanding youth populations in swing states pose a long-term threat to the GOP.
New data supplied to me by the Harvard Youth Poll sheds light on the powerful undercurrents driving these developments. Young voters have shifted in a markedly progressive direction on multiple issues that are deeply important to them: Climate change, gun violence, economic inequality and LGBTQ+ rights.
John Della Volpe, director of the poll, refers to those issues as the “big four.” They all speak to the sense of precarity that young voters feel about their physical safety, their economic future, their basic rights and even the ecological stability of the planet.
“This generation has never felt secure — personally, physically, financially,” Della Volpe told me. [Continue reading…]