Vice President Kamala Harris recently made the first stop of a fall campaign tour aimed at winning student votes at Hampton University, Virginia. This is part of the strategy to rally young people’s support for President Joe Biden’s re-election.
“What worries me sometimes is that our young leaders are told that their voice doesn’t matter (…). Because you voted, Joe Biden is president and I am vice president of the United States,” Harris told the students gathered at the university auditorium.
Jaden Clemons and Layth Carpenter, both freshmen at the university, said that as graduates of Howard University, another historically black school, they viewed Harris as “authentic” and “relatable.”
But no one was willing to commit to supporting Harris and Biden next year, the first time they will be allowed to vote in a presidential election.
Mobilizing students is one of the biggest challenges for Biden, who at 80 is the oldest president in US history. At 77, Trump isn’t much younger either, although he has a more energetic style than the Democrat.
Younger, more liberal, less participatory and more cynical
At Hampton University, Harris repeatedly tried to show that she understood the concerns of young voters. He said he was taught about “climate anxiety” and his fears of a warming world.
At another point, he asked how many students at their schools had participated in active shooter drills, and a sea of hands went up. Older people, Harris said, “don’t get it.”
Harris acknowledged that the White House has faced obstacles, such as the U.S. Supreme Court decision that undermined his debt relief plan and blocking initiatives in Congress.
In general, young people lean left (which would benefit Democrats) but are less likely to vote. Therefore, in close campaigns, it is crucial to prevent them from becoming disconnected from the political debate.
Given this liberal bias, Republicans are not always the obvious competition for Democrats, but rather apathy or even third party appeal.
John Della Volpe, director of public opinion research at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, said the White House needs to reach out to people who tend to tune out politics to make them aware of what Biden has accomplished since taking office. The reproach.
“It’s an incredibly challenging environment to get this message across,” said Della Volpe, who worked on Biden’s 2020 campaign. “And when these things are not understood, cynicism grows,” he added.
Trump is looking for young people on social networks
In a bid to galvanize support among young voters, former President Trump, the favorite to win the Republican nomination in his bid to return to the White House, visited Iowa State University last weekend.
He threw autographed footballs to a cheering crowd during a barbecue at Alpha Gamma Rho, an agricultural fraternity, and later attended the football game against in-state rival University of Iowa.
“I guess the youth like Trump,” the former president said, referring to himself in the third person.
John Brabender, a media consultant for the Trump campaign, said the former president tried to appear at events that resulted in videos on social media; for example, Trump’s performance at a mixed martial arts fight in Las Vegas in July.
With YouTube and TikTok being important platforms for young people, he said: “Our goal is to ensure that the content is created in a way that is interesting enough to be shared.”
It may be difficult to capture the attention of young people, but Trump’s celebrity remains strong. One of the few things Isaac Gavin, 21, a student at Drake University in Des Moines, knows about the Republican primary is that Trump is running again.
“I don’t even know everyone who is running. It seems like a lot,” Gavin said. “It’s confusing,” referring to the more than 10 Republican candidates challenging Trump for the presidential nomination.
Mitt Romney, a Republican senator from Utah and a former presidential candidate, told reporters at the Capitol in Washington that he doubted Trump could gain traction with a new generation.
“My party will only get young people to vote for us if we talk about the future. And that’s not happening yet,” said Romney, who announced his resignation from the Senate this week.
Biden uses “influencers” to attract young voters
According to AP VoteCast, Biden won 61% of voters ages 18 to 29 in 2020, making young voters a crucial part of his coalition.
However, according to a new AP-NORC poll, his approval rating within that age group is now 29%, compared to 40% overall.
Harris’ college tour is part of a broader strategy.
The White House has also worked with several social media “influencers” to reach people who don’t rely on traditional media.
The Democratic National Committee is also building a network of student volunteers to organize on college campuses and has hung banners over football games encouraging voter registration.
Donald Trump changes the tone of his speech to a more aggressive tone. Is this a good strategy?