First-time voters, second-time voters... the youth in America is keener to vote this time than they ever did.
A national poll of America’s 18 to 29 year-olds released by the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School found significant interest in the upcoming election. A turnout not seen since the 2008 presidential election. The poll found 63 per cent of respondents indicated they will “definitely be voting,” compared to 47 per cent during this same time before the 2016 presidential election.
This aware generation of voters or what we call the “woke” youth had much to say on all election issues from the handling of the Covid-19 outbreak by the Trump administration or for that matter climate change, racism, Black Lives Matter movement, immigration, and foreign policy.
In political parlance what you call the TINA factor (‘There is No Alternative’) is at play here. Speaking to many young voters India Today learnt that it is not so much a vote of confidence for Biden than it is to get Trump out that is driving many voters to the polling booths.
A first-time voter Samantha Cavallaro, a Marine Biology Student at the University of South Florida (USF), has already cast her ballot as an early voter.
She said, “I voted Biden more so to just vote Trump out. I didn't really have a set first choice as the election process continued but I voted Biden because he was the only choice in the end.”
On the issue of the recent race-related issues and violence, immigration, etc., children of immigrant parents have a very strong position on the Republican party’s policies.
Rhitik Joshi, a third-year student at the University of South Florid who originally is from Baltimore, Maryland and moved to the Tampa area around two years ago, said, “This presidential election was my first time voting and I voted for Joe Biden to be the next President. To me, the top issues the country is facing today are immigration - especially being the son of two immigrant parents, healthcare and how to make it affordable for all and the rights of marginalised people in the United States and how to prioritise those rights.”
“To me, voting for Joe Biden was both a conscious effort to put him into office and also a negative vote towards Trump,” he added.
It is a real thumbs down for Trump when it comes to the issue of climate change and the environment and how the administration handled the coronavirus pandemic.
Samantha Cavallaro said, “I am a first-time voter, born and raised here in Florida. I am very excited to have been able to participate in this election since it is one of, if not the most, divisive elections we have had in my lifetime. I am also grateful to live in a country that allows my voice to be heard so I would not take that for granted.”
She added, “As a marine biology student, environmental policies were the biggest issues for me when considering who to vote for. On Trump's side, he has not made any solid goals for attacking climate change and doesn't seem to understand the magnitude of the issue, especially since he said picking up leaves in the California forests would've helped the spread of wildfires.”
On the question of handling the pandemic, most areas around universities and the student population have not appreciated the current dispensation’s attitude in handling the situation is what most students at the University of Florida had to say.
Samantha Schwarz, another first-time voter from USF said, “The issues that are most important to me in this election are definitely the handling of Covid-19 because I've experienced that on a personal level. My whole family was sick with the virus back in March and I know family friends who actually passed away from it and it's really heartbreaking and the numbers just keep getting worse and worse in the country in our country.”
“Trump or his administration is not handling it well at all and so I really hope that Biden would make it better if he becomes president. Racism and the Black Lives Matter movement again is something I don't think Trump is handling that well at all. White supremacists really flock to him and he doesn't condemn them,” she added.
For many, all this has translated into more enthusiasm about voting in the 2020 presidential election.
For starters, we are likely to see many previous non-voters go to the polls. Experts have predicted a record turnout of 150 million, which represents 65 per cent of eligible voters, the highest rate since 1908. The youth voters are going to make a significant part of the active voters this time around.
FALL 2020: 5 KEY TAKEAWAYS
Young voter enthusiasm and the likelihood of turning out are very high. 63 per cent of respondents indicated they will “definitely be voting,” compared to 47 per cent during this same time in 2016.
Since March, there has been a dramatic shift in how young Americans view the economy as being an important issue in the presidential election.
Only a quarter of young Americans say they will “definitely” get a Covid-19 vaccine. Broken down by political party, 34 percent of Democrats say they will “definitely” get a Covid vaccine, compared to only 14 percent of Republicans.
Although young American voters are more likely to favour Joe Biden compared to Donald Trump, young Americans who support Trump are far more enthusiastic about their support.
Although young Americans support peaceful, Covid-safe protest marches, they overwhelmingly disapprove of other more disruptive protest tactics.
(Source: Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School )