One of the major wild cards in 2024 will be whether Gen-Z voters, who have turned out at historic levels over the last several election cycles, will show up again and, importantly, vote predominately for President Joe Biden.
As Democratic pollster Celinda Lake pointed out in July, even in the event of a 2024 Biden-Trump rematch, the race will be transformed by the entrance of roughly 16 million newly eligible Gen-Z voters aging into the electorate since 2020, while roughly 10 million older voters simultaneously age out, so to speak.
The progressive consortium Navigator Research homed in on these voters in a series of new focus groups consisting of young Democratic women of color in Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Texas, as well as young independents and Republicans from across the country who remain undecided about their vote.
While the insights revealed are not statistically sound, they do reveal some important takeaways for Democrats about turnout and preferences among voters under age 36.
1. Young voters of all partisan stripes are skeptical about the economy and the direction of the country, but they still view voting as a civic duty even if they are not enthusiastic about their choices.
A Democratic woman in Nevada said, “I think that every vote counts. Every single person, it all adds up. Just like every penny counts to make up a dollar, I feel like every single person's vote counts.”
Another Democratic woman in Texas added, “I want to also be heard, even if my small vote. But at least I feel like I did something to be heard.”
An independent man in Nevada offered a familiar refrain among participants that they believed in voting even when they weren't sure it was making a difference.
“Voting is super important to me. I vote in the primaries, local elections, midterms, all of it, because if I can make any kind of effect. Even though a lot of the times it feels like it's fruitless," he said.
2. When the moderator asked participants what came to mind upon hearing "political extremism," Trump, Trump supporters, and GOP-leaning causes dominated the discourse.
“The storming of the Capitol," said one Democratic woman in Nevada.
"Donald Trump,” offered another female Democrat in Nevada.
“January 6th, I think that is an example," said an independent man in Arizona.
“The thing that immediately comes to my mind is groups like QAnon and [those] kinds of really, really extreme political ideas that she was just talking about get pushed on social media," responded an independent woman in Georgia.
3. While the idea of a 2024 Biden-Trump rematch frustrates many young Americans, Democratic women of color were particularly galvanized against Trump.
"Anybody but [Trump]. They could put a dog in. I'll pick the dog," said one Democratic woman of color in Pennsylvania.
“[If Trump wins the election] I think that would personally suck from my standpoint and seeing or experiencing Trump as a president for four years," said another Democratic woman of color in Texas.
“I don't think that Donald Trump should be allowed to run again," replied a Democratic woman of color in Nevada.
“I definitely feel like he brought out racism a lot more," said a Democratic woman of color in Nevada. "I know it's always been a thing, but as soon as he got elected, it was just so ugly. So, I feel like that is one thing that will definitely get way worse if he comes back, as well as the immigration stuff that he was trying to do that would negatively impact my family for sure.”
One cautionary note: Throughout the focus groups, young voters expressed interest in third-party candidates, but many also concluded voting third-party would be a wasted vote. Democrats simply cannot stress enough that a third-party vote would effectively be a vote for Trump.
The bottom line here is that keeping Trump out of office remains a driving force among a demographic of young voters that will be critical to Biden's success next year.