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Joe Biden, America's Oldest Sitting President, Needs Young Voters to Win Again. Will His Age Matter?
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By Associated Press
Published 9 months ago on
July 31, 2023

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At 24, Alberto Rodriguez has grandparents younger than Joe Biden. But he’s more interested in the 80-year-old president’s accomplishments than his age.

“People as young as me, we’re all focusing on our day-to-day lives and he has done things to help us through that,” Rodriguez, a cook at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, said of Biden’s support among young voters. Rodriguez pointed specifically to federal COVID-19 relief payments and government spending increases on infrastructure and other social programs.

Voters like him were a key piece of Biden’s winning 2020 coalition, which included majorities of young people as well as college graduates, women, urban and suburban voters and Black Americans. Maintaining their support will be critical in closely contested states such as Nevada, where even small declines could prove consequential to Biden’s reelection bid.

Biden’s 2024 Campaign Strategy

His 2024 campaign plans to emphasize messages that could especially resonate with young people in the coming weeks as the anniversary of the sweeping Inflation Reduction Act approaches in mid-August. That legislation includes provisions that the White House will embrace to argue that Biden has done more than any other president to combat climate change.

Such efforts, however, could collide with Biden’s personal reality — like when he recalled that, while attending a St. Patrick’s Day parade at age 14, he appeared in a photo with President Harry S. Truman.

“Purely by accident — I assume it was an accident — the photographer from the newspaper got a picture of me making eye contact with Harry Truman,” Biden said to chuckles last week at the Truman Civil Rights Symposium in Washington.

In 2020, 61% of voters under age 30 — and 55% of those between 30 and 44 — supported Biden, according to AP VoteCast, a nationwide survey of the electorate.

Republican Efforts to Attract Young Voters

It’s an age group with which Republicans hope to make inroads. Former President Donald Trump, who is the early front-runner in the GOP presidential primary and is only 3 1/2 years younger than Biden, said Friday, “We are hitting the young person’s market like nobody’s ever seen before.”

Kevin Munoz, a spokesman for Biden’s campaign, referred to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement in arguing that “young people are acutely impacted by the issues front and center in this election, driven by the extreme MAGA agenda.” He said that included inaction on climate change, gun violence and student debt.

“We will meet younger Americans where they are and turn their energy into action,” Munoz said in a statement.

That might not defuse questions about age, though, when it comes to Biden or Trump.

“There’s a frustration and exhaustion that they feel with the rematch,” Terrance Woodbury, co-founder & CEO of the Democratic polling firm HIT Strategies, said of young voters.

“That’s more of a problem than either of those two candidates individually, is that a system can just keep reproducing,” Woodbury added. “And I think a lot of people just find that untenable.”

Polling on Biden’s Support Among Young Democrats Significantly Lower Than Older Dems

An April poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that just 25% of Democrats under 45 said they would definitely support Biden in a general election, compared with 56% of older Democrats. A majority of Democrats across age groups said they would probably support him as the party’s nominee, however.

Biden’s campaign is relying heavily on the Democratic National Committee, which during last year’s midterms, hired campus organizers in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona and other battleground states and offered weekly youth coordinating meetings to encourage in-class contacts and “dormstorms.” The DNC sees young people as some of the most critical voters it will need to reach in 2024 and promises “significant investments” to mobilize them. Plans are underway to expand on its work last cycle, including trainings it held on how best to turn out voters.

The Republican National Committee is trying to use Biden’s age against him, posting online videos of Biden seeming frail or making verbal gaffes, such as when he declared in June “God save the queen,” nearly nine months after the death of England’s Queen Elizabeth II.

Rodriguez shrugged off online attacks, “People can make all the hit pieces and memes and TikToks all they want.”

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