Saturday, November 25, 2023


Ed Kilgore asks: "Do Young Voters Actually Prefer Trump to Biden?"
... it’s increasingly clear that “the kids” may be swing voters, not unenthusiastic Democratic base voters who can be frightened into turning out by the prospect of Trump’s return.

NBC News reports it’s a polling trend that cannot be ignored or dismissed:
The latest national NBC News poll finds President Joe Biden trailing former President Donald Trump among young voters ages 18 to 34 — with Trump getting support from 46% of these young voters and Biden getting 42%. ...

CNN’s recent national poll had Trump ahead of Biden by 1 point among voters ages 18 to 34....

And the recent New York Times/Siena College battleground state polling had Biden ahead by just 1 point among voters ages 18 to 34.
Kilgore lists the obvious reasons young people might be dissatisfied with President Biden:
Young voters share the national unhappiness with the performance of the economy; many are particularly afflicted by high basic-living costs and higher interest rates that make buying a home or even a car unusually difficult. Some of them are angry at Biden for his inability (mostly thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court) to cancel student-loan debts. And ... young voters are least likely to share Biden’s strong identification with Israel in its ongoing war with Hamas (a new NBC poll shows 70 percent of 18-to-34-year-old voters disapprove of Biden’s handling of the war).
Kilgore notes that Trump opposes student debt relief and is very much in sync with Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud, though young voters may not know any of this.

But in addition to all this, what if there's a greater portion of the youth vote that embraces right-wing ideas than there has been over the past few decades? What if increasing numbers of young people believe it's hip to be reactionary -- and believe that Trump is an appealing iconoclast?

Many observers say that young supporters helped propel the Trump-like Javier Milei to victory in Argentina last month. The Washington Post reports:
Most of the thousands who packed the Movistar Arena for Milei’s campaign-closing rally ... were men, many of them young and all of them seemingly angry.

Angry with a leftist establishment that has failed to control spiraling inflation and economic stagnation. Angry with a government that has allowed their currency to plummet and their earnings to vanish.
Milei sometimes wields a chainsaw in public appearances. He has dressed up as a libertarian superhero named General Ancap, a reference to his politcal philosophy, which he calls "anarcho-capitalism." He's sometimes compared to a killer anime character.

All that might help explain his popularity among young people in Argentina. By contrast, most young Americans don't admire Trump.

But I wonder if Trump is making some inroads among the young in part because he's seen as a taboo-ignoring anti-establishment figure -- and also a sexual-conquest-obsessed older version of the disturbingly popular Andrew Tate.

If you share Tate's view that the dominant figures in the world are (or should be) men who subordinate women, if you believe that mainstream culture is spreading lies that keep men (in particular) down -- that meat is problematic, that good men should be feminists, that climate change is bad and therefore it's bad to drive a stylish car -- then Trump might seem like your guy (and Joe Biden might seem like a pathetic "beta male").

I don't have data to back any of this up. It's just a sense that there more young people now than there have been in recent decades who think repellently regressive ideas are countercultural. If that's happening to any extent, it might help explain some of the current counterintuitive polling.

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