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The polls are suggesting a huge shift in the electorate. Are they right? | Politico

cross-posted from:

It’s a significant reversal from recent history: President Joe Biden is struggling with young voters but performing better than most Democrats with older ones.

  • In the last few years, polling broke pretty badly. The timeline, as I see it, looks like this:

    • In 2015 and 2016, the last years pollsters could reliably reach most voting demographics, there were polling errors in several states, but the national polls were mostly accurate. They showed that Hillary Clinton would win the popular vote, and she did.
    • In 2017 and 2018, young people - who had previously been unreliable voters - started turning out in droves. Thanks to that, Democrats over-performed in virtually every special election and the midterms. Young voters are hard to poll, because they don't answer unknown callers on their cellphones, and don't have landlines.
    • In 2019, the trend continued, with special elections landing firmly in the Democratic column.
    • In 2020, Joe Biden won. Polls were wrong about both Democratic and Republican turnout, with both parties obliterating past records - but obviously, Biden pulled in more voters than Trump.
    • In 2021, special elections that should have been cakewalks for Republicans flipped Democratic, beating polls by wide margins.
    • In 2022, structural advantages that should have given the House and Senate both to the Republicans defied all expectations - and polls - to put the Democrats ahead in the Senate, and to give the Republicans such a slim majority in the House that it led directly to the clusterfuck there today.
    • In 2023, once again Democrats over-performed substantially versus the polls. The Republican House majority slimmed further, and they lost multiple state legislatures.

    Now, in 2024, the question is whether the pollsters have retooled enough to account for a youth vote that keeps confounding them. The youth aren't happy about Republicans overturning Roe v. Wade or a bunch of other decisions coming down from the conservative majority in the Supreme Court, but they're also not happy about the Biden administration's response (so far) to Israel's atrocities in Gaza. It's hard to imagine them actually flipping to Donald Trump, who would push for paving Gaza over entirely and loves authoritarians like Netanyahu, but it's easier to imagine them staying home if Biden doesn't put his foot down and deny Israel military assistance until Netanyahu is removed from power.

    Regardless, I take all polling with a truckload of salt until the polls show they have resolved their issues and are starting to reflect reality again.

    • Spot-on analysis. Public approval of Israeli action was already shifting heavily away within just the last 2 months. This of course before the latest debacle this past week. As the polls go, so too will Biden... Hopefully.

      The other thing is Trump has basically been in campaign mode for years already. Biden and the broader coalition is only starting to ramp up now, and the fundraising has been good. As the money starts being spent that's going to certainly have some impact.

      That said I'm still not convinced pollsters have managed go dial in millennials let alone zoomers.

      • Me neither. Zoomers are between 12 and 27, which means a bunch are turning 18 this year and voting for the first time. And they are enormously hard to poll. I think there are a few things we can assert confidently about them, such as that they support women's reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ rights, believe in climate change, and are less religious than their parents, but that's about it.

    • You had everything right until the part about Gaza. Young people recognize an aggressor, we've been thru this with ruzzia. The hostages being raped to death in Palestinian captivity does not sit well with us.

      • This has strong "fellow kids" vibes, and looking at your comment history, it looks like a game you play a lot.

        For the record: No one is claiming Hamas didn't start this. They undeniably committed a brutal act of barbaric terrorism, which continues to today. The problem is that Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government responded in exactly the way Hamas wanted, with excessive barbarism of its own and genocidal tactics that have alienated Israel from long-term allies.

        Given the above, I don't think interacting with you will be fruitful at all, so if you want the last word, go ahead and take it. I won't read it.

  • “Polls show young voters going for Trump … while young women remain in Biden’s camp.”

  • Is doesn't strike me as surprising that that the generations raised with a political reality where the Democratic party is still playing by Marquess of Queensberry rules while the Republican party has moved onto drunken bare-knuckle street fighting are less than pleased with the messaging difference they're still seeing. I get it, part of me feels the same way, but I think maybe the older you get the more you start to think that we just can't let politics become that permanently. I think Biden's messaging so far as a candidate refusing to stoop to that level is one that shows a maturity that appeals to the older crowd, who remember a time political differences at the highest level weren't openly violent and confrontational by default.