Huge Gender Gap is Forming Among Younger Voters and That’s Bad News For Biden

There’s a huge gender gap that, if it’s maintained, will cost Joe Biden the 2024 election.

The raw numbers tell only part of the story. In 2020, 18-34-year-old voters favored Joe Biden 60-36%, “helping to give him a 4.46-point victory among all voters, 51.31 percent to 46.85 percent,” according to Thomas Edsall writing in the New York Times.

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This year, polls are all over the map, but to take one poll by NBC, Trump actually leads among young voters 43-42%.

Obviously, that spells doom for Biden if the numbers hold. But what makes the abandonment by young people so worrying for Democrats is that while young women’s support for Democrats has risen over the last decade, Democratic support by young men has fallen off a cliff.

Tracking the partisan identification and ideology of 18-to-34-year-olds, the McInturff analyses show that from 2012 to 2023, women became increasingly Democratic, going from 55 percent identifying as Democratic and 29 percent Republican in 2012 to 60 and 22 in 2023. The shift was even more striking in the case of ideology, going from 32 percent liberal and 29 percent conservative to 51 percent liberal and 17 percent conservative in 2023.

Among young men, the Democratic advantage in partisan identification fell from nine points in 2012 to five points in 2023.

The number one issue that has driven young women to flock to the Democrats is the abortion issue and all aspects of reproductive health. Young men might be “allies” of young women when it comes to the issue of abortion, but it’s young women who actually put their votes where their ideals are.

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Also, the coarseness of political dialogue in recent years, especially by Republicans like Donald Trump, has driven women into the arms of the Democrats. “Young women think Trump’s style is an embarrassment abroad, a poor role model for their children, and dangerous for the country,” says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake.  

On the other hand, “Younger men, especially blue-collar, have a grudging respect for his strength and ‘tell it like it is’ attitude.”

The economy is also a big factor in the gender gap among younger voters. Young men see a bleak future, a sense of being “left behind,” says Lake. That gender gap is also being driven by an increasing number of women going to college while the number of men attending college is falling.

Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of “Generations: The Real Differences Between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers and Silents and What They Mean for America’s Future,” wrote by email that the question of why there is such a gender divide “is tough to answer,” but she made some suggestions: “It could be that the changes on the left have driven young men away from the Democratic Party. For example, the idea that identities can be divided into ‘oppressor’ and ‘oppressed’ may have alienated some young men.”

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The current divide between young voters and Biden on the Israeli-Hamas war could mostly disappear if there’s a ceasefire or a cessation of hostilities. But Biden has a lot of ground to make up and a lot of trust that needs to be reestablished if he expects many of those voters to “come home” to the Democrats.

It’s hard to say if this gender gap between young male and female voters is permanent. It’s a gap that can be exploited by Republicans who have apparently resigned themselves to allowing the Democrats to define the issue of reproductive health and thus maintain a huge advantage among youth voters.

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