U.S. shows record high 18-29 voter turnout

Jeff Thomas, Features Editor

2020 has been one for the history books. As insane as the past ten months have been, there’s still more to be written as the results of the presidential election keep rolling in.

The race will likely come down to thin margins in a handful of battleground states. For the Joe Biden and Donald Trump campaigns, when it comes to winning those margins —  key demographics are the name of the game. 

Early voting data is showing a historic surge in 18-29 year old voter turnout. 2020 is poised to be the first election in which this new demographic of voters will throw their weight around in a significant way. All indications are that higher youth participation will favor Biden over Trump.

The Teen Vogue and Ipsos 2020 survey of young voters found the issues young people are most concerned with include climate change, affordable healthcare, student debt relief and social issues such as racism and a woman’s right to abortion. 

When it comes to policy, there are significant differences between the candidates regarding these issues. While neither candidate is perfect on these issues, Biden has been more willing to address the concerns of young voters than Trump. 

Biden has campaigned on listening to the scientists, expanding the Affordable Care Act, a plan to reduce student debt and a commitment to representing all Americans.

Trump, on the other hand, has run a campaign virtually devoid of concrete policy positions. His stances on climate science and what medical experts say about COVID-19 have fluctuated to whatever is most politically convenient at the time. For years, Trump has said that he wants to repeal and replace the ACA, though no plan for replacement has ever been revealed.

Trump has consistently stoked divisions in the country as an end to his political means, dividing the American people and fostering resentment and unrest.

The campaigns are, of course, aware of where young voters stand. As the election has entered this final stage and both parties have pivoted their focus to getting out their voters, the candidates have taken different approaches to the youth vote.

As enthusiasm and interest in the election has risen among young voters, the Biden campaign has expanded their outreach and worked to get voting resources into the hands of young people. Perhaps most notably, the Democrats have been lining up celebrity endorsements left and right to stir support for the former vice president.

In the run up to the election, Republicans took the opposite approach to indicators that there’d be a high youth turnout — working to put obstacles in front of young voters to suppress the demographic’s turnout. As disgusting as it is, voter suppression has become an all too common strategy in U.S. politics. 

Additionally, President Trump has repeatedly attacked the validity of absentee ballots and early voting and in general acted to undermine the legitimacy of the election.

Despite all the chicanery and bad faith politics, young voters have turned out to the polls in record numbers. If Biden wins, the demographic will have played a pivotal role in pushing his campaign across the finish line. 

Let’s hope Biden and the Democrats repay the favor by pushing the country into the direction young people want.