Posted on June 2, 2024

Poll Finds Young Voters Despairing Over US Politics

Shelby Talcott, Semafor, May 29, 2024

Young voters overwhelmingly believe that almost all politicians are corrupt and that the country will end up worse off than when they were born, according to new polling from Democratic firm Blueprint obtained exclusively by Semafor.

The sour mood points to potential trouble for Joe Biden, who is struggling with Gen Z and younger Millennials in polls compared with 2020, and needs to convince them he can be relied on to improve their lives.

As part of the online poll of 943 18-30-year-old registered voters, Blueprint asked participants to respond to a series of questions about the American political system: 49% agreed to some extent that elections in the country don’t represent people like them; 51% agreed to some extent that the political system in the US “doesn’t work for people like me;” and 64% backed the statement that “America is in decline.” A whopping 65% agreed either strongly or somewhat that “nearly all politicians are corrupt, and make money from their political power” — only 7% disagreed.

“I think these statements blow me away, the scale of these numbers with young voters,” Evan Roth Smith, Blueprint’s lead pollster, told Semafor. “Young voters do not look at our politics and see any good guys. They see a dying empire led by bad people.”

While 45% of those polled said their own lives would be either a lot or a little bit better than their parents’, the same wasn’t true for how they felt America as a whole is doing: 54% — a number that included a solid mix of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — believed the country is going downhill.

The data also found the COVID-19 pandemic has left a lasting, bad taste in the mouths of young voters: 51% of those polled said they were happier before the COVID-19 pandemic, 77% said that the event changed the country for the worse, and 45% said they feel less connected to friends and acquaintances compared with five years ago.

One reason younger Americans’ pessimism matters, Vox’s Eric Levitz writes: There’s some evidence Trump tends to do better with voters who have low trust in institutions. That alone could help explain some of his recent gains with young and nonwhite voters, Levitz argues.

Donald Trump has been working to get young voters by focusing on messaging about things like the economy — and by recruiting rappers and going to various sporting events, Semafor reported last year.