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Young Americans to Vote in 'Higher' Numbers, Biden's Favourability Increases: Harvard Poll

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about coronavirus at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware on October 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about coronavirus at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware on October 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Young Americans recognise that the issues that impact their day-to-day lives are on the ballot, from healthcare and mental health to racial and social justice.

Young Americans adults are expected to vote in large numbers in the 2020 US Presidential elections, and Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s favourability has increased considerably in the last few months, according to a poll conducted by the Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. The nation-wide poll, which surveyed the age group of 18 to 29 years, found "historic interest in the upcoming election, with a higher proportion of respondents indicating they will 'definitely be voting' than has been observed in the twenty years the poll has been conducted, suggesting higher turnout than has been observed in this age group in several decades.”

Youth enthusiasm to vote and likelihood of turning out on track will hit record levels in 2020, with 63 per cent of respondents indicating they will definitely be voting, a contrast to 47 per cent during the 2016 elections.

The 2008 election saw the highest youth turnout since 1984, with 48.4 per cent of the 18-to-29-year-olds voting, according to the United States Elections Project, a reputed Census platform on poll turnout. The turnout of young voters this year seems closer to 2008 compared to 2016, the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School poll data indicated.

The survey found that Biden holds a 24-point lead in the youth voter category over incumbent President Donald Trump. Biden’s favourability among young voters has increased by 13 percentage points since April this year.

The youth poll said 63 per cent of Biden supporters expect the Democratic challenger to win, with six per cent anticipating a Trump win and 30 per cent ’not sure’. In contrast, about 74 per cent of Trump supporters expect Trump to win, with only 6 per cent anticipating a Biden victory.

Biden is viewed favourably by 47 per cent of all young adults, compared to 41 per cent who view him negatively. Biden’s favourability is slightly higher among likely voters (56 per cent), although the percentage who view him unfavourably remains unchanged (41 per cent).

Young Americans recognise that the issues that impact their day-to-day lives are on the ballot, from healthcare and mental health to racial and social justice. The unprecedented interest in this election and the significant increase in early and mail-in ballots portend historic turnout, Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School Director Mark Gearan said. As this generation becomes the largest voting bloc in the electorate, their notable civic participation is a very good sign for the future, he said.

Chair of the Harvard Public Opinion Project Justin Tseng said young Americans have grown up with the fear of school shootings and many other negative forces. ”They’ve witnessed the destructive forces of unchecked climate change, they’ve participated in demonstrations against racial and economic injustice, and they’re hungry for calm, sure-handed leadership,” he said.

Although Republicans and Democrats are divided on the role the government should play in addressing healthcare issues, young Americans have a strong preference for more increased policy actions to address healthcare issues (72 per cent) and to improve access to mental health services (75 per cent). These preferences cross party lines, with 85 per cent of Democrats, 70 per cent of unaffiliated persons, and slightly more than half (55 per cent) of Republicans preferring stronger government policies to address healthcare.

The poll found that there is also a broad consensus among young Americans that the government should do more to improve race relations and reduce systemic racism. Seventy-one per cent of all young Americans (including 50 per cent of young Americans who identify as Republicans) support increased government action to improve race relations.


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