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Half of young Americans not enthused about voting in 2024 election: poll

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Many young Americans are unenthusiastic about voting in the 2024 presidential election, and more than half of them said they would even seriously consider voting a third party candidate — a warning sign for President Biden and Democrats who rely on the youth vote to win national races, a new survey found.

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Biden led a generic Republican nominee 44% to 32% among 1,568 registered voters and potential voters aged 18 to 34 with about one-quarter undecided, according to the poll released Thursday by Catholic University’s Sine Institute for Policy and Politics.

But only 50% of young Americans said they were very or extremely motivated to vote while the other 50% said they were only somewhat or less motivated or not motivated at all to vote, the survey said.

In another alarm bell for incumbent Biden and the GOP, 53% of respondents said they would seriously consider voting for a third-party candidate compared to 47% who said they would not.

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Nearly half — 45% of respondents — said the outcome of the presidential race won’t make a big difference in their lives, while 55% said the results would.

Sixty percent of young Americans who described themselves as “independent” said they would seriously look at voting for a third candidate rather than incumbent Biden or the GOP nominee for the White House.

Joe Biden
Biden led a generic Republican nominee 44% to 32% among 1,568 registered voters and potential voters aged 18 to 34.
Al Drago/POOL via CNP/

Both Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama particularly galvanized younger voters to win two terms to the White House.

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The Real Clear Politics average of poll results show a dead heat between former President Donald Trump, the front-runner in the Republican primary, and Biden in the general election. Trump, who faces four separate criminal indictments, actually leads Biden by a whisker, 44.8% to 44.4%.

“It’s a warning sign for Democrats. If young voters don’t turn out, Democrats lose the election,” said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who worked on Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign. “Democrats need African-Americans and young voters to come out in large numbers.”

The results show that young Americans are not thrilled with candidates from either major political party as evidence by their willingness to vote for an alternative, Sheinkopf said.

Former Democratic Rep. Max Rose agreed, saying, “The youth vote is extraordinarily important for Democrats. The Democratic Party shouldn’t take any vote for granted — as they have been guilty of in the past.” 

Booths are set up so voters can fill out their ballots in at a make-shift polling site located in a tent in Rockaway Park in the borough of Queens on November 6, 2012 in New York City.
Half of young Americans say they’re not enthusiastic about voting in 2024.

The pollster said the findings show campaigns and advocacy groups have their work cut out for them in turning out the youth vote.

“While a majority of young Americans say the outcome of the election will make a big difference in their own lives, a significant plurality say it won’t; this is a remarkable disconnect from the assessment of many experts and pundits who describe the 2024 election as historically important and consequential,” the Sine Institute said in a summary of its findings.

“Young Americans are taking a wait-and-see approach; President Biden enjoys core support at this early stage, but one-in-four young Americans say they don’t know how they’ll vote. The dissatisfaction that young Americans feel with the current political state of affairs is evident in their willingness to consider a third-party candidate; a majority say they would think about it.” 

The pollsters added, “Turnout among this cohort is always a major factor in assessing the electoral landscape and at this point, only half of young Americans say they are highly motivated to vote to pick the next president.”

In many respects, young Americans said they were optimistic about the future, with 62% of respondents saying they would be better off than their parents, while 38% say they would be worse or the same. Many said they would be healthier, be more financially secure and face less discrimination than their parents.

But young respondents were split when asked about having “functional government that represents all” compared to their parents.

“Notably, young Americans also identify our current political structure and political climate as an obstacle to their efforts to achieve their goals; in fact, `having a functional government that represents all Americans is the only one of more than a dozen traits where young Americans do not expect to be better off than their parents’ generation,” the poll analysis said. 

Designed by the Sine Institute in partnership with the Millennial Action Project and Close Up
Foundation, the survey of 1,568 Americans aged 18 to 34 was based on interviews conducted
by Generation Lab between July 21 and August 11. Generation Lab is a data intelligence company that gathers and interprets the views and behavior of young adults.

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