In The News Quiz March 22, 2021
America’s Youth…& Their ‘Silent Generation’ President
Joe Biden, at 78, is the oldest person ever to hold the U.S. presidency: Ronald Reagan was 77 as he finished his two four-year terms. As Biden completes his second month in the White House, his highest approval rating among Americans of various age groups is among 18-29-year olds, at 68% (among age 65+, approval is just 49%). This after young Democrats largely rejected Biden in the 2020 primary election, with Bernie Sanders—another septuagenarian—winning under-30 voters over Biden by margins like 52 points in Nevada and 37 points in Illinois.
What accounts for the bond—developed over just a few months—between youthful voters and a president old enough to be their great-grandparent?
Trump-slayer. While in office, President Trump’s worst approval ratings among any age group consistently came from the under-30 set. Biden’s decisive victory over Trump in November 2020 could explain a significant part of his appeal to young Americans.
Policy alignment. After taking control of the Democratic nomination race in March 2020, the Biden campaign focused deliberately on younger voters. Biden pointed out his shared emphasis with Sanders on issues appealing to millennials, like climate change, gun control, and affordable health care. Once in office, Biden pushed for and won a progressive-flavored $1.9 trillion stimulus/recovery act. Early-term executive orders on immigration and environmental protection also won over previously sceptical young Democrats.
Cabinet/White House appointments. Early in a presidency, with most policy issues still in formation, politics-watchers notice who’s getting high-ranking jobs in the new administration. Biden’s unprecedentedly diverse Cabinet, and nomination of non-white males to positions like director of the powerful Office of Management & Budget, wins him accolades with the most diverse—and inclusion/equity-embracing—generation in U.S. history.
Calming the waters. After four years of unrelenting bombast and polarization flowing from the White House, millennials—who for years have reported that they really dislike rancor and conflict in politics—express to pollsters and political analysts their relief at the relatively serene Washington political landscape with Biden at the helm: echoes of “no-drama Obama?”
Listen and read the following to learn more about these issues:
- Tamara Keith, “How Young Activists Are Working With Biden” (podcast; 2021).
- David Shribman, “Millennials and Gen X…Helped Biden Win” (2021).
- Eugene Washington, “A More Millennial Washington Takes Shape” (2021).