162 Comments

21yo here. My read is that these polls a year out are reflecting overall dissatisfaction with the non-primary primaries going on right now. Once the Biden-Trump matchup becomes official next summer, young voters will still vote heavily against Trump.

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49% of young Americans think that gays are not allowed to live openly in Israel; 45% think they are allowed to live openly in the Gaza Strip. Americans aged 65 and over show much better familiarity with the legal situation of gays living in the region.

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In the case of Israel-Palestine, part of it may be that young voters don't remember the collapse of Clinton's Camp David summit and the perception that Arafat threw away his chance at peace in the Middle East, if they remember the Second Intifada at all. Also, there are people in their thirties now that don't have clear memories of 9/11 or how much of a shock it was to the American psyche, so Hamas' attacks aren't as resonant to them. More of their views of the conflict have been shaped by pro-Palestine social media posts over the last few years.

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I would also conjecture that the youth vote is not a monolith. Just as in the general electorate there are politically active voters and "normies" as Ruy Texeira refers to them.

Israel/Hamas probably has some salience for the politically active but for the latter group the economy is probably a more important issue.

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It's ironic that Biden is extremely old for a presidential candidate, and that Bernie Sanders was the choice of young liberals in 2016 in 2020....when Sanders is older than Biden.

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My hypothesis: it's not Trump, it's the economy.

What the youth vote does in 2024 is going to be heavily dependent on economic conditions.

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Is there any data on how individuals in the “young” bracket responded to inflation the first time it came their way? How did young-at-that-time voters feel about their first bouts of inflation in the 70s or the 90s?

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I’m going with Biden being an octogenarian who has no idea how to connect with anyone under the age of 70, but that’s just my VERY uninformed opinion. 😄

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Summarizing your attitude succinctly, as seen from my position as a cynical Gen-Xer:

You'd rather destroy the initial cause of a problem, even if that DOESN'T SOLVE THE PROBLEM, than solve the problem in a way that doesn't damage the initial cause.

Or, you are looking for revenge and performative suffering rather than solutions. It's not a good idea unless the elitists are pissed off or have their heads on pikes!

Maybe your problem is that your expectations of the world are too high, not that your experience has been too low. I was in the powerless liberal minority during my young adulthood, and when I heard planes fly overhead at night I would wonder if this time they had nuclear bombs. The things that have been achieved since then (to name just a few: saving the ozone layer from CFCs, real LGBTQ rights, reduction in fear of global nuclear war) are far better than I ever could have expected. To me, creating initiatives in a highly-flawed system to get desired results, while trying to improve the system overall but not making that a requirement for any individual solution, is far better than what I grew up expecting.

Now, however, I see a situation that looks like it is going to bring all the terror back -- because the people nominally on my side want to burn everything down.

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> I’m increasingly coming around to the idea that there’s been some sort of step change that cuts roughly midway through the Millennial generation — so say, people born in 1990 or later — that affects people’s social and political attitudes across a wide range of issues.

I was born in 1990+-1, and I'm a poster child for exactly that split, a split that runs *through* me as much as around me.

My values, in a lot of ways, haven't changed all that much. I've always sought responsible, compassionate governance, in the sense of "help people as much as you can while not being blind to optimization problems". But what I believe the implementation of those values looks like has changed *dramatically*, in a way that reflects the split I see in people older than me and people younger than me.

I really think it boils down to the economy and its sequelae, and what it means for how people see the world.

You mention that young people haven't had much experience with inflation. That's true. But another thing young people haven't had much of is experience in an economy where exploitation, grift, regulatory capture, and runaway concentration into the hands of the very richest weren't running amok.

In 1999, Warren Buffet gave an interview [1] with Forbes, talking about his expectations for a contraction in the market over the coming years. He was right. The market would stagnate soon afterward with the dot-com crash and the mediocre economy of the aughts, crash with the '08 housing crisis, and wouldn't get substantially higher even in nominal terms than it was in 1999 until well into the 2010s. But what's more interesting is *why* he thought things were unstable: he looked at a chart of corporate profits as a percentage of GDP, and found that those profits stayed in a narrow band (between 4 and 6%, roughly). At the time, it was close to 6, and Buffet's position was that that was as high as things could stably go.

Since Buffet gave that interview, the value climbed into the double digits - and stayed there for nearly twenty years. Today it's 10.8% [2], and that's lower than in recent years.

If you were born in 1993, you were 6 when Buffet gave that interview. By the time you were 10, profit-to-GDP had climbed to 7.5%, and it would keep rising throughout your teens and plateau at astronomical rates never seen before by the time you were worldly enough to understand it at all.

And by the time you become an adult, there isn't a path for you. You came of age into the 2008 crisis and its aftermath. You watched megacorps consolidate and consolidate and consolidate. Your degree wasn't worth what was promised to you. Your job applications got thrown through the woodchipper of keywords and experience Catch-22s. And you saw everyone around you struggling the same way, to the point that collective despair is as essential to millennial culture as anything is.

Worse yet, you see the ideals you were raised with in the worst kind of hypocrisy. Americans had *faith* in our economic system. It was our defining national identity in the struggle against communism, and even before that, the Protestant work ethic has deep, deep roots in America. We believe, or believed, that good, honest, hard work is rewarded. So when you see such obvious grift and abuse, it's not just economic anger you feel: it's *moral* anger. The system of justice you were raised to believe in has failed you, and the worst of your culture are exalted instead of cast down.

Why *wouldn't* you decide there's nothing worth saving?

I'm old enough to have resisted that impulse for a long time. I've spent a lot of time defending institutions and older ways of life, both to others and to myself. I've tried to be responsible, to accept that not everything can be solved today, that not every apparently-good solution is actually effective, that not every social change is good.

But I've seen that attempt to be responsible abused so many times. We get told that if we just wait, we can do things responsibly, we can make changes in a better way than just burning things down.

But the changes never happen!

And so eventually I, like people younger than me, eventually decided there wasn't much to save in what we have. If we have to burn it down to change it, so be it - better ashes than this.

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[1] https://fortune.com/1999/11/22/warren-buffett-on-stock-market/

[2] https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=1Pik

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In the summer of 2020 many people predicted bullwhip effect like after WW2. Remember “Dewey Defeats Truman”?? Economic conditions change quickly and political conditions change quickly and the metrics we have don’t necessarily work with bullwhip effect because conditions change very rapidly. We’ve even had a lot of labor unrest like after WW2!?!

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Regarding Israel-Palestine: "Did Biden's poor polling with young voters begin or get substantially worse starting around mid-October 2023" seems like a natural thing to ask if it's put forward as a hypothesis.

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Dems are just going to repeat Bush - Gore and wail about what a bad candidate the Democratic nominee was, how he should have taken care of business.

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Maybe findings like the NYT poll showing that Biden would win in a landslide *if* Trump is convicted of a crime (which is very likely to happen) show that these respondents are proooooobably not very likely to end up actually voting and maybe should be priced in to these analyses.

But that's just me.

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To quote someone somewhat famous "On the wall, the writing."

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I’m glad you wrote this because some of the replies to your Tweets lately have been driving me crazy

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