Recent Polls Suggest Biden is Struggling To Keep Younger Voters While Trump is Gaining Ground With Them

By: Alex Trent | Published: Apr 08, 2024

A few recent polls show that Trump is gaining with the youngest voters in the electorate even surpassing Biden in some estimations, while Biden is struggling to attract youth voter attention compared to previous years.

This data has political analysts scratching their heads, as it is a seeming role reversal from usual politics. Typically younger people prefer Democratic candidates while older ones prefer the Republicans. In another strange reversal, Biden has gained support among older voters compared to 2020, even while his recent approval among Americans has been low.

Trump Leading Biden Among Youth in National Poll

An NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist College national poll released last week showed Trump had a 2-point lead over Biden among Millennial and Generation Z voters.

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Donald Trump on stage in front of black background. He is wearing a light blue striped tie and appears to be clapping his hands

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When Gen Z and Millenials were asked which candidate they would vote for if the election was held today, 49% of them said Joe Biden, and 51% said Donald Trump.

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Fox News Poll

A March poll from Fox News found that among voters under 30, Trump is leading Biden by 18 points in a head-to-head contest. When independent and third-party candidates were added to the matchup, Trump’s lead increased to 21 points over Biden.

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Donald Trump smiling for his official portrait. There is a US flag behind him.

Source: Shaleah Craighead/Wikimedia Commons

In that poll, 49% of people under 30 have a favorable rating of Trump. With this same group, only 31% of people found Biden favorable.

Evidence is Mixed

While these two polls show Trump winning over Biden with younger voters, there are still polls that put Biden ahead. A Quinnipiac University poll also released last week estimates that Biden is 20 points ahead of Trump among voters under 35.

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A split image showing President Joe Biden on the left and former President Donald Trump on the right.

The White House, Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

In that poll, 56% of voters aged 18-34 would choose Biden, while only 36% of voters in that same group support Trump if the election was held today.

Difficulties Reaching Younger Voters

One reason polls may be confused about young voters is that it is harder to build a good survey sample of these types of voters. 

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A woman wearing a shirt that says 'gimme jesus."

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Many polls rely on the phone survey method, which requires a voter to answer questions over the phone. Younger people are more likely to ignore these calls, which polling analysts say could be skewing the results.

Ignoring Calls

Abby Keisa, deputy director of a nonpartisan research institute on youth engagement called CIRCLE, asserts that young people just don’t take phone surveys like other groups.

A person fiddles with a black iPhone while sitting down.

Source: Web Donut

“Even if they’re on a cell phone, they’re much less likely to answer it,” said Kiesa.  “That makes it hard when people are trying to use phone surveys to reach a representative sample of young people.”

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Text Message Interviews

Some polls use text-message interviews, a format more at home with the tech-savvy younger generations.

A young woman wearing ripped jeans responds to a text on her cell phone.

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A Split Ticket electoral analysis with text-message interviews found that while Biden is leading Trump among young voters, Biden has lost ground from where he was in 2020. It’s unclear what this drop in youth support for Joe Biden signifies, but it is worrying ahead of the Presidential contest in November.

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Biden Doing Better With Older Voters Than Before

Another strange trend among recent polls seems to be an increase in support for President Biden among older voters above the age of 65. The Quinnipiac University poll found Biden was ahead of Trump by 8 points among voters ages 65 or older.

Current president Joe Biden sits in front of a dark background and an American flag while wearing a blue suit jacket and a white and blue striped tie

Source: Wikipedia Commons

If true, this could be a silver lining for Biden because older voters make up a much larger percentage of the electorate than younger people.

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Nation’s Oldest President

If elected in November, Joe Biden would break the record again for the oldest president to take office, being 82 years old when being sworn in on January 2025. It’s possible that older Americans are just choosing to vote for the older candidate.

President Joe Biden speaking into a microphone.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

“We’ve certainly seen in our older folks that they are leaning a little bit more to Biden,” said Don Levy, the director of the Siena College Research Institute. “Even on Biden approval, older folks in our most recent national [survey] are break-even on Biden job approval, despite the fact that the country as a whole is 25 points negative, and young people are 38 points negative on Biden approval.”

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Biden Leading Among Older Voters in National Poll

A New York Times/Siena College national poll in late February found that Biden enjoyed a 9-point lead over Trump among voters 65 and older. This same poll found that Trump led Biden overall by 4 points.

President Joe Biden sitting at a desk signing a document.

The White House/Wikimedia Commons

This supposed reversal with Biden among older voters and Trump among younger voters has some speculating of a coming shift in voting patterns and electoral politics.

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Electoral Realignment

This limited evidence has some speculating about a change in the way younger people and older people may be voting in the future. One reason for this change may be a result of the country’s changing demographics and attitudes among racial groups.

A collection of circular 'I VOTED' stickers spread out on a white surface. Each sticker features an American flag motif with red stripes and white stars on a blue background

Element5Digital/Unsplash

Polls have also shown that Trump has gained support among Black and Latino voters this time around compared to 2020, while Biden has seen increased support from White voters. This may be explained by the fact that White voters tend to be older than the average voter, while Latino voters tend to be younger than the average voter.

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Gender Gap

Another factor to consider in the possible changing electoral landscape is a shift in gender voting patterns. Gallup data shows that American women have become more liberal over the years, while men, especially younger men, have not changed much and becoming slightly more conservative.

A woman with painted fingernails and a green jacket browses her cell phone.

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In 2023, 40 percent of women identified as liberal, while only 25 percent of men shared this identification.

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