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Young Americans are increasingly moving toward the extremes

Photo: Spencer Platt Getty Images via Agence France-Presse Trump gets more support among 18-24 year olds, according to a recent poll.

Sarah Boumedda

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  • United States

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Joe Biden, favorite candidate of young voters ? This is what a poll from the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics shows. Inflation, health and housing are at the top of their priorities, far ahead of climate change, the conflict in Gaza and even student debt. How to explain these results ?

Towards the end of March, the Harvard University-affiliated school surveyed more than 2,000 young people, aged 18 to 29, on their political opinions and voting intentions. The results, published recently, show that the Democratic candidate leads the race with this key electorate, with an eight percentage point lead over his Republican opponent.

This gap widens even more among the women surveyed: Joe Biden obtains 49% of their voting intentions, compared to 32% for Donald Trump. Among men, it disappears: the former and current president both obtain 41% of the vote.

We see the same kind of phenomenon, although less pronounced, between age groups. Trump gets more support among 18-24 year olds, while Biden gains points among 25-29 year olds.

“Fewer and fewer young people identify with the middle of the political spectrum. Young members of Generation Z are moving more and more towards the extremes”, analyzes for Le Devoir Corey Seemiller, professor at Wright State University, in Ohio.

This Generation Z specialist carried out a similar study in 2021. Its results coincide with those of Harvard. “We also found a difference between men and women, with women almost twice as likely to identify with the left as men. »

It also highlights an increasingly pronounced inclination towards the right among young men. With the invalidation of Roe v. Wadein 2022, “this divergence must be all the more apparent” between the two groups, she adds in an email exchange with Le Devoir.

Unique perspectives

In addition to voting intentions, the Harvard poll also paints a portrait of the positions taken by young Americans, particularly on their priorities, their confidence in public institutions and their position on the Palestinian question.

Even though half of respondents favor a ceasefire in Gaza (only 10% oppose it, while 36% did not comment on the issue), few which make the war in Palestine a priority electoral issue. Conflict comes at the bottom of the list, surpassing only… student debt.

“News evolves rapidly, and economic and political conditions around the world are constantly changing. It's hard to say what international policy issues will be most relevant to this generation and how that will influence their vote, says Corey Seemiller.

And while inflation, access to health care and housing sit at the top of the list, these priorities vary across political allegiances. “For those on the left, racism, police brutality, homophobia and sexism have emerged as major concerns. […] The right is more concerned about limitations on personal freedoms, human trafficking and crime,” underlines the expert.

Furthermore, trust in public institutions has reached a record low since 2015, analyzes the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School. Trust in the US president has fallen 60% in nine years, while trust in the US Supreme Court has fallen 55%. The media only garner the trust of around 10% of young people, a drop of 18% since 2015.

This lack of confidence also seems to be generalized. “Gen Zers have been dealing with failing systems since they were young,” whether it’s an unstable political system, a faltering economy, limited access to health care… “ And despite all that, we still seem surprised that they don’t trust institutions! » remarked the professor.

These findings demonstrate “unique perspectives” on ideology among the younger generation. “All of these things influence how they vote; they will support candidates who care about what they care about,” concludes the expert.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116