Over the years, we’ve often singled out Willie Geist as a favorite member of the Morning Joe cast. Not only for his amiable personality, but also for his approach to politics that is more even-handed than the decidedly Dem tilt of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.
There was even that moment in 2012 when Willie ventured into Manhattan’s ultra-liberal West Side to “campaign” for John McCain. Sure, it was a light-hearted stunt, but it did say something about Geist’s more open-minded approach to politics.
In more recent times, Geist has firmly made himself part of Morning Joe‘s anti-Trump movement. But we’ve viewed that as more a matter of Willie’s reaction to Trump’s persona, rather than of Geist’s views on particular issues.
But that seemed to change this morning. The show had on John Della Volpe, the director of polling at the Harvard Institute of Politics, to discuss the Institute’s recent poll of young voters. A notable finding was strong support for abortion rights and for referenda establishing those rights in law, post-Dobbs.
That’s when Geist made his disappointing statement:
“We talked about the issue of abortion. One of your key findings, pro-choice Americans more likely to vote on abortion ballot measures. If there is something on the ballot in their state, they’ll go out and vote, ideally, for candidates, as well.”
So Willie wants young people not only to support pro-choice referenda, but pro-choice “candidates” as well.
We can only hope that in saying that supporters of abortion-rights referenda will “ideally” also vote for “pro-choice” candidates, Geist, rather than expressing his personal view, was putting himself in the mindset of Democrat activists. It’s true that Democrats have sought to put abortion referenda on the ballot in many states as a tactic to drive Dem-friendly voters to the polls.
Note: Della Volpe is hardly an objective observer, given that he worked on Biden’s 2020 campaign. So his findings might be taken with a “liberal” grain of salt.
Here’s the transcript.
6:49 am ET
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: The Harvard youth poll shares several key findings, including fewer young Americans plan to vote in 2024. With most of the decline coming from young Republicans and independents.
President Biden’s advantage with younger voters narrows when potential independent candidates are introduced, like RFK Jr., Joe Manchin, and Cornell West. And with support for abortion access increasing over the last decade, Americans who support a woman’s right to choose are more likely to vote on abortion ballot measures.
Joining us now, the director of polling at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, John Della Volpe, he’s an MSNBC contributor.
. . .
JOHN DELLA VOLPE: This is an opportunity we had to speak to a couple of thousand young Americans. There’s been a lot of conversation the last month or so looking at cross-tabs of a couple of hundred young Americans.
. . .
President Biden is in solid shape, I’d say, in a two-way matchup against President Trump today, one. The second thing is, as you can see, it gets much more complicated with multiple candidates, independent candidates in the field, specifically Bobby Kennedy, two.
And the third thing is, as you can see, as you just noted, abortion continues to be an incredibly important issue in the post-Dobbs environment. And we see that folks who align with the pro-choice movement are far more likely to engage. Not just politically, but actually deriving where they choose to live when they grow up — when they are ready to move and settle down in a career.
. . .
WILLIE GEIST: We talked about the issue of abortion. One of your key findings here: pro-choice Americans more likely to vote on abortion ballot measures. If there’s something on the ballot in their state, they’ll go out and then vote, ideally, ideally vote for candidates as well.
DELLA VOLPE: Yeah, we had a series of, we updated a series of questions on abortion generally. All this is available on ourwebsite, of course. We see an eight-point increase over the last four, five years in terms of overall support of abortion access generally.
And when we asked people, if there were a referendum or a ballot measure in your state, how likely would you be to participate? You can see that the pro-choice group is far more likely than other people to say they’ll turn out on a local issue.
GEIST: Yeah, so about two-thirds, nearly two-thirds of young Americans say legal access to reproductive health care, including abortion, is important when choosing where they live. So obviously, the issue of abortion is going to be important here.