Are Democrats Really Losing Younger, Nonwhite Voters? The Data Sure Suggests It

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There has been an incredible amount of data out there suggesting the Democrats – and Joe Biden in particular – are losing nonwhite voters. Hispanic- and Asian-American voters voting Republican more and more, and Black voters seem inclined to just stay home.

In truth, the Democrats have been taking those voters for granted, and have sought to build and maintain a permanent political majority with them, to the point that they are even admitting that it’s the whole reason they want more illegal immigrants to come into the country.

But the even trickier situation now is that they aren’t just losing current voters to Republicans and, possibly to a greater extent, to voter apathy. It appears, based on a new report from the New York Times’ Nate Cohn that they aren’t even bringing in early as many new voters – the ones who are registering to vote for the first time.

Newly registered voters, who are disproportionately young and nonwhite, have tended to lean Democratic.

That’s been less and less true during the Biden era.

A majority of states ask people to select a party affiliation when they register, and last year newly registered Democrats made up only about 53 percent of those who chose a major party — beating Republican sign-ups by a narrow margin of 26 percent to 23 percent of total registrations — according to data from L2, a nonpartisan voter data vendor.

The entire piece is worth a read, because Cohn has this way of just being annoyingly analytic regardless of who is facing the downside of that analysis, and this one is relatively bad for Democrats.

The data does not show that Republicans are gaining all of the new voters who are opting out of registering as Democrats. Instead, it looks like they’re registering as independents, and no one is really sure why. It’s oftentimes impossible to tell why voter registrations change, but we can make some fairly educated guesses.

Emphasis on the “guesses.”

I agree with Cohn when he writes “The best case for Republicans is that it confirms the deterioration in Democratic standing among young and nonwhite voters shown in national polls. That’s certainly possible, but it’s not a slam dunk.” The fact of the matter is that something is convincing young voters to stay out of the partisan registration aspect of signing up to vote.

There are two very likely scenarios here:

  1. Young voters lean progressive and Biden is not seen as progressive enough – especially when it comes to things like the Israel/Hamas conflict. We are also seeing dissatisfaction among progressives when it comes to climate issues, even as Biden makes promises about moving us off fossil fuels as a country.
  2. Young voters have spent the last four years watching their parents struggle with expenses, a volatile job market, and other out-of-control economic factors. As a result, they look at the government in charge and think “No more of these guys.”

Neither of those is a universal explanation, but you need to realize that while they may play dumb and do dumb things, kids aren’t stupid when it comes to observing their parents. They can see when their parents are struggling, and they can see when the parents are trying to hide things from them – like pared-down family vacations and switching to generic brand items at the grocery store to save a few bucks here and there.

So, I tend to think that parents, who are grumbling about costs and have to explain to kids that things will be a little different right now, are probably having an impact on how kids react when it comes time to register to vote. If the people currently in charge are Democrats, then they don’t want to be Democrats.

That’s not a perfect explanation – again, there are a ton of factors at play – but having spent a lot of time working with teens as a teacher, I’ve picked up a few things along the way. 

Whatever the reason, however, the Democrats are keenly aware that they need younger voters. They are just way behind on them this election cycle.

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