Joe Biden may eventually find a way to get people to stop talking about Tara Reade or even his increasingly frequent “senior moments.” (He’ll certainly have plenty of help with that from the majority of the mainstream media outlets.) But it’s very possible that the damage has already been done. According to a study conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Institute of Politics, while Biden’s overall numbers among registered voters still don’t look too shabby, he could be in serious trouble with one of the two demographics critical to his prospects. Enthusiasm among younger voters, particularly those aged 18 to 29, is in the tank. And his approval rating in that demographic is similarly far underwater. (Fox News)
Unfortunately for Democrats, new evidence seems to suggest the Biden electability argument might be severely flawed. Not only is Biden facing immense pressure from an army of angry Bernie acolytes over a sexual assault claim made by former Senate aide Tara Reade, but recent polling also suggests support for Biden among young voters – a key demographic for Democrats – might be much weaker than anyone realized, even in head-to-head matchups with Donald Trump.
According to an extensive survey by the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government released in late April, only 34 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 say they have a favorable view of the former vice president, with just 8 percent saying they have a “very favorable” opinion of Biden. In the same survey, 47 percent of young people said they have an unfavorable view of Biden.
Let’s not try to interpret this as a sign that Donald Trump is suddenly surging in popularity with the youthful crowd. He’s not. In fact, his raw numbers in this age group are actually worse than Biden’s. But the percentage who have a favorable view of Trump (30%) was only four points lower than Biden’s score. Even more curiously, those expressing a “very favorable” view of Trump were more numerous than those with a similarly very favorable view of Uncle Joe.
Pulling the camera lens back a bit, this slice of the demographic pie is weighted very differently for the two parties in general and these two candidates in particular, which is why these figures should be scaring the Biden camp. Every cycle, it’s assumed that the Democrat will do better with the youth vote. That’s not the GOP’s hefty part of the base. But that only helps the Democratic candidate if the younger voters actually show up on election day in strong numbers. The same theory can be applied to Black voters.
You know who does show up reliably for the GOP, even if they’re not particularly wild about the specific candidate? Older voters in general and older white voters in particular. They’re going to turn out for Trump in November pretty much no matter what happens. But in order to get across the finish line, Biden will need to find a way to incite Obama levels of excitement among younger and minority Democrats and left-leaning independents.
A favorability rating of 34% among young voters right now is not a road sign pointing toward that sort of turnout. The linked analysis blames these figures on “an army of angry Bernie acolytes.” But the Bernie Bros do not constitute 66% of the party. If they did, Bernie would already be working on his acceptance speech for the convention. Sanders’ supporters are clearly part of Biden’s problem, but there’s clearly something else going on.
This brings us back to the same nagging speculation that’s been popping up for weeks all across the political web. How many of these indicators do the Democrats need to see before they begin looking seriously at pulling the plug on a Biden nomination? And even if plans along those lines are afoot, how would they go about doing it? Picking the right person might salve a lot of wounds and save the day for them, but any move that looks like witchcraft designed to give the boot to both Sanders and Biden will probably lead to a riot and wreck their turnout hopes.