Biden’s Lost His Rizz Among Young Voters, Poll Finds

In 2020, young voters broke turnout records — more than half of 18 to 29 year olds cast ballots, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — and those young voters broke, overwhelmingly, for Joe Biden. The question haunting Biden’s reelection campaign is whether that critical cohort of voters will show up again in 2024. According to a new survey from the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the campaign is right to be concerned. 

The Harvard poll shows President Biden has a 15 point lead over Trump among likely voters under 30. That’s a sizable edge — but that is down significantly from the 24 point advantage Biden enjoyed with that cohort in 2020. Young voters are also considerably less enthusiastic about voting next year than they were at this point in 2019: only 49 percent of 18 to 29 year olds say they’re “definitely” going to vote in the presidential election, compared to 57 percent this time four years ago. 

According to the poll, the most precipitous declines are among Hispanic voters (a 16 percent drop in intention to vote), Black voters (a 12 percent drop), and women (a 9 percent drop) — all constituencies that were key to Biden’s success four years ago. 

But the data does offer some reason for the Biden campaign to be hopeful. The largest drops in voter enthusiasm — 10 points each — are among young voters who identify as Republican or Independent. There is only a two-point drop in enthusiasm among voters who self-describe as Democrats. 

Overall, the news is better for Biden than recent surveys conducted by other pollsters, which showed young voters flocking to former President Donald Trump. When matched up head-to-head, the Harvard poll shows Biden leading Trump by 11 points with voters under 30 writ large — and the president’s advantage only grows when that group is narrowed to registered voters (15 points) and likely voters (24 points). 

Unfortunately for Biden, that advantage over Trump quickly erodes when Independent candidates are factored in: 29 percent favor Biden, 25 percent back Trump, 10 percent favor Robert Kennedy, 3 percent would vote for Cornel West, and 2 percent for Sen. Joe Manchin. The remaining 31 percent say they’re undecided.


As Rolling Stone has reported, young voters who supported Biden in 2020 say they are increasingly disillusioned with the president’s handling of the conflict in Gaza. The Harvard survey bears that out: young Democrats were evenly split when asked about Biden’s handling of the war, with 46 percent saying they trusted the president, and 45 percent saying they did not. When the views of young Republican and Independent voters are factored in, more young voters say they would trust Donald Trump’s handling of the war than Biden’s.

According to the poll, more young voters trusted Trump to handle the economy, immigration, and to strengthen the working class. Biden, meanwhile, won their trust on issues like climate change, abortion, education, protecting democracy, health care, and gun violence.