Out of Left Field: Rising youth power at polls has consequences

Michael Dinnocenzo
Prof. Michael D'Innocenzo

Expanded epistolary exchanges together with creative initiatives by “Bold Democrats” are likely to encourage youth to more fully to recognize their powers – and to act on them.

This is very bad news for Donald Trump and for those he holds hostage to his “Big Lie” – as the former “Grand Old Party” sinks to disgrace with Trump’s unprecedented lying and autocratic conduct. Former Republican Michael Gerson published an Op Ed this week: “The Trump Nightmare Looms Again.” Some refer to Trump’s plans for “a slow moving coup.” On Oct. 15, The Wall Street Journal Editorial headline was “Donald Trump’s Hostage politics.”

The editors noted: “He says Republicans must agree the 2020 election was stolen or he’ll aid the Democrats.” What a bizarre statement by Trump, but with rising youth power Democrats will not need his aid.

Demographics are indeed destiny! The numbers and diversity of Americans, ages 18 to 29 point to a very different future for our imperiled nation. Their views on politics and social issues have been tracked in recent years by Pew, Gallup, and, especially, CIRCLE (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning) at Tufts University.

While only 39 percent of that group voted in the 2016 presidential election, 50 percent cast ballots in 2020. The youth vote favored Biden (61 percent) over Trump (37 percent). Eighty-seven percent of Black youth were for Biden (he received 51 percent from white youth). By 2025, it is projected that 42 percent of all voters will be “people of color.”

The 18-to-29 group has long been in the vanguard of supporting interracial marriages and programs, as well as gender inclusion for gay, lesbian, transgender folks. They also support abortion rights for women way beyond the general population, and they favor environmental, climate initiatives, as well as budgets that support life-enhancing over military spending. (All of these mark striking differences with older voting cohorts, and especially with Republicans).

Now, the group “Bold Democrats” plans to appeal to the 20 percent of 2020 18-29 year-olds who were first-time voters. The have also particularly noted that more 18 to 29-year-olds were early voters in Texas (1.3 million) than any other state). A New York Times headline (Oct. 14) read: “Democrats Look to Young Voters to Flip Texas.”

Of course, everyone knows that Texas is one of the most conservative states with a far-right governor. But Bold Democrats have developed perhaps the strongest citizen outreach endeavor, not only for Texas, but other battle ground states as well (especially Virginia with a gubernatorial election very soon).

“The Vote Forward” project of Bold Democrats says “we have created a grassroots army; we are over one million strong.” They are writing letters to infrequent, but Democratic-leaning voters who need that extra nudge to cast a ballot. They offer eight compelling reasons why the vote “army” should be writing letters, indicating the power of epistolary appeals as peer-reviewed studies show that citizens who received such letters had a much higher voter turnout rate. [see Daily Kos, campaigns@dailykos.com – Oct. 12, 2021).

Flipping Texas would be momentous. Republicans carried the state by a margin of 631,000 votes in 2020. Now, the youth group “Next Gen’ is targeting 2 million Texas voters, (1.1 million between 18 and 29.)

Because Republican victory margins have been declining in Texas, overcoming the 631,000 margin in 2020 may seem more likely if most of the million-plus youth respond to Bold Democrats and Next Gen campaigns.

Keep your eye on Texas, first the 2022 elections, then the 2024 presidential contest – and check the rise of youth power.

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