14th September 2023 – (Washington) As speculation mounts regarding the looming 2024 presidential contest, one demographic will prove pivotal in determining the outcome – young voters. Fresh off powering President Biden to victory in 2020 through unprecedented turnout, this emergent bloc threatens to abandon the incumbent if its prized issues go unaddressed. However, with a renewed focus on their priorities and a reinvigorated grassroots outreach campaign, Biden retains the ability to rekindle youth enthusiasm. The question is whether his administration grasps both the opportunity and urgency presented by securing their allegiance once more.
Critical to Biden’s narrow victory two years ago was the backing of 61% of under-30s, according to exit polls. While a 51% approval rating among registered under-35s appears strong, skimming the surface conceals depths of complacency endangering this pivotal cohort’s fervent participation. Only 9% “strongly approve” of Biden’s performance thus far, versus 28% who “strongly disapprove” – a stark deficiency of passion undermining future mobilisation. With youth turnout powering recent Democratic wins, any downturn could prove calamitous. Clearly, Biden’s first term has left this demographic wanting for tangible progress on issues nearest to their hearts and futures.
Unlike his predecessor, Biden faces little danger of energising opposition among the young. However, neither does he inspire the rapturous support driving others to the polls in unprecedented numbers. The danger now is not defection to Trump, but disengagement from politics altogether. A resulting drop in youth voter turnout risks undoing Biden’s coalition and ushering reactionary forces back to power. Though midterm elections saw rising political involvement, continued barriers to participation may curb this if unaddressed. Remedying sources of apathy demands immediate attention if Biden hopes to safeguard his mandate.
Encouragingly for Biden, analyses show his policy record aligns strongly with the priorities of tomorrow’s electorate. From climate action to healthcare to gun control, Biden achieved more for youth in two short years than any modern president. Yet he and his advisers have clearly struggled connecting these achievements to their intended beneficiaries. Polls revealing scant awareness of Biden’s record among the young suggests a failure to articulate accomplishments, leaving space for opponents to seed misperceptions instead. Overcoming this disconnect demands reinvigorating grassroots outreach, meeting young voters where they learn and live.
Biden’s recent infrastructure spending, climate bills and student debt relief measures will benefit generations to come if properly communicated. Unfortunately, traditional campaign methods like televised speeches fail reaching a population immersed in social media. But targeting busy students where information spreads quickest, via TikTok, Instagram and YouTube influencers, could reframe understandings. Authentic engagement on these platforms through collaborations with popular creators boosts awareness while cultivating trust in Biden’s character. Contrary to early reservations, expanding into non-traditional spaces connects Biden to youth culture and priorities in an intimate, meaningful manner elite politicians rarely achieve.
Beyond innovative digital campaigns, nothing mobilises like human contact. Biden must ramp up personal appearances at colleges, public appearances with popular musicians and comedians, even dropping in on online gamers’ livestreams. Such exposure fosters organic rapport difficult for detractors to counterfeit. Where young Sanders supporters felt truly heard in 2016, Biden risks losing a generation through detachment if reliant on prepackaged stump speeches instead of candid conversations. Reconnecting face-to-face demands bringing Capitol Hill’s buzzing interns into above-ground marches, rallies and roundtables that awaken activists dormant since the 2020 campaign.
While critics question Biden’s advancing age, wisdom accrues with years and his sapience remains an asset if deftly leveraged. Rather than recoiling from expressions of seniority, Biden could reframe the narrative by leaning into his status as a stalwart champion unrelenting in defending youth priorities against radical regressivism. With a new focus on storytelling highlighting personal anecdotes, Biden can cultivate an alternative brand as a genteel but gritty grandparential figure unafraid to confront oppression wherever it emerges. Combined with his proven record of delivery, this reframing better resonates with a pragmatic yet passionate generation.
Confronting detachment further demands robust policy efforts attentive to youth concerns. While courts overturned debt cancellation, alternatives exist and demand exploration if the White House hopes to satisfy obligations made. Healthcare costs, housing crises and educational barriers also fall under Biden’s purview to methodically tackle through ambitious planning and bipartisan cooperation. Continuing to invest where young lives intersect shows good faith and a commitment to bettering their circumstances that motivates participation in return. Stubborn obstructionism should not preclude ambitious Beltway brainstorming on behalf of a generation facing existential threats unmollified.
Beyond Biden, the Democratic Party as a whole could learn from successes in mobilising the young. Rising progressive firebrands like Representatives Ocasio-Cortez, Jones and Khanna energise peers through visible partnership with grassroots movements confronting issues few establishment figures dare touch. If embracing outsider activism, Democrats risk little by opening campaign coffers, organs and access to promising leaders attuned to the base. Fostering fresh faces energises participation while cultivating tomorrow’s standard-bearers. Respecting youth perspectives instead of lecturing boosts goodwill that engages where instructiveness alienates.
Much rides on Biden’s capacity to re-inspire the coalition powering history-making victories. By amplifying his record of delivery, cultivating organic rapport on youth platforms and prioritising the challenges defining their lives, Biden stands poised to bank crucial support. With issues like climate, healthcare, gun control and the state of democracy resonating so profoundly, reconnecting Biden to activism maintains Democratic control of government at a critical hour. With unstable times demanding steady hands, rallying youth passion safeguards momentum towards solutions only Biden seems capable of achieving through unity and level-headed resolve against extremism. By meeting young voters where lives intersect, Biden can rekindle the fervour securing America’s inclusive future.