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PBS NewsHour | How Young Michigan Voters Think About the Upcoming Election | 2024 season

Young people between the ages of 18 and 29 make up about 20% of eligible voters in the United States.

A majority of them already voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, and they are generally a reliable vote for Democrats.

Laura Brown Lopez is here to take a look at the state of play this election year.

Laura.

Thanks, Geoff.

In the battleground state of Michigan, NewsHour met with four young voters at a Detroit coffee shop to talk about the 2024 election.

Most of them plan to vote in November but are not excited about their options.

In one word, how are you feeling about this election cycle?

Nervous.

A little bit tired.

Overwhelmed.

Hopeless.

Do you think many of your friends feel the same way or are disillusioned?

Actually, I think all the words are exactly what all my friends say.

It's yes, nervous and also hopeless and yes, all of those things.

What are the top topics for you?

Max Nagel, 19, attends Oakland University just outside Detroit.

He voted for Nikki Haley in Michigan's primary economy.

border because I think it's a humanitarian crisis.

And then yes, weapons too.

I believe the Second Amendment is extremely important, and I don't like the language behind a ban on UN weapons at all.

Melinda Billingsley, 28, of east Detroit works at a nonprofit voting rights organization and is open to supporting third-party candidates.

LGBTQ issues are heavily influenced by rhetoric, not even actual change.

Just talking about it and demonizing or invoking fear and things like that, like people getting hurt, has consequences, especially in the right or wrong hands.

It makes a big difference.

Alex, 20, is a student at the University of Michigan and co-chair of his school's College Democrats.

The greatest thing for me is simply democracy.

I mean, you know, we saw January 6th, we saw Trump gradually hollowing things out over the course of his term.

And now he fully admits it: I will be a dictator from day one.

I don't think this is just rhetoric.

I think that's an admission.

I think it's almost a boast, I think.

And 22-year-old Saba Saad was born in the West Bank and moved to the United States 12 years ago.

She is a student at Michigan State University.

I'm really worried about likes.

The economy.

The average American's quality of life wasn't that good.

Everything is more expensive.

I don't think housing will be affordable for many people.

Inflation is crazy.

People are overworked and don't want to be paid enough.

I work, I work at a Kroger in the picking department, so I bring people's groceries home.

You order online in the parking lot.

I'll ask someone for $80 worth of groceries and it looks like $30.

As if the prices for many things had simply gone through the roof.

And I think, yeah, yeah, wages have gone up.

But some people could come to terms with it.

So how many of you plan to vote in the November election?

Okay, so at least three out of four.

So who plans to vote for Joe Biden in November?

Who is planning to vote for Donald Trump and who is still undecided?

Not binding?

You could say.

Unbound.

Good answer.

Could President Biden still earn your vote by November?

NO.

And I think a lot of people say: Would you rather trump someone or whatever?

Whatever.

Trump was president.

I'm a Muslim, just as bad as him in many ways.

I still had the privilege of being very safe here.

I think out of respect for about 35,000 people who were killed in Gaza, lost their homes and displaced.

I cannot justify voting for the man who authorized these checks.

You are the Joe Biden voter.

Why are you voting for Joe Biden?

Yes.

Looking back, he made a lot of promises during his 2020 run that I think he ultimately delivered very well.

Is there room for improvement?

Absolutely.

But, you know, we saw the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.

We saw the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Both are investing around a trillion dollars in infrastructure and green energy.

I think he did an extraordinary job within the limits set for him.

And you.

Why are you indecisive?

Even though I'm committed to the election, I personally want to say that for me Joe Biden is very moderate and I'm not.

I'm as far to the left as Joe Biden is, we're going to make a sensible transition to electric vehicles.

I think, no, let's get rid of all gasoline-powered cars.

We will go straight to electricity, trains and public transport, and we will work hard to do so.

I want to vote for what I want and not, as you said, the lesser of two evils.

Why are you voting for Donald Trump?

It really just depends on politics.

I'm the conservative type.

He is the conservative candidate.

Even if I don't like his rhetoric.

He convinces me with politics and myself.

What specific policy?

Immigration.

We have a massive crisis at the border right now, and I would attribute a lot of it to Biden opening the border.

I would say that from a diplomatic perspective he was one of the best presidents to do that.

Personally, I don't think we would have the situation we have now in Ukraine if Trump were president.

Another topic that was at the forefront of my mind.

The Israel-Hamas war.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of the conflict is the power we as students have in shaping U.S. policy toward this conflict.

As for our respective schools, U of M and MSU.

In the last week we have had camps set up.

You know, these are truly incredible students who are voicing their voices in such disruptive, civilly disobedient ways.

Because I think that's a very effective way to get your voice across.

However, the problem I have with some demonstrations is that people automatically voluntarily disqualify themselves and say, “No matter what happens, I will not vote for President Biden.”

You know, Democrats need young voters.

They need young voters to win.

But if you say from the start: Nothing you can do can make me vote for you, then why?

Why do they have an incentive to listen to you?

Just a short question.

So how much did he do to win over the votes who said they wouldn't vote?

Because I want to know, for example in case I missed something, because I feel like we've been calling for a ceasefire for some time and that hasn't happened.

I don't always have to vote democratically because you can change as a person and I don't think you should.

I should compromise my morals because I follow a certain direction and like a certain party.

Did you vote for Joe Biden in 2020?

Yes, and then I changed your mind.

President Biden has been working over the months to bring about an immediate ceasefire, but unfortunately it is not his decision alone, because ultimately it is Israel that is driving the war.

I wanted to say I'm more of a pessimist about this because.

Although, as you know, the United States can demand a ceasefire.

And I understand that there are other actions the United States could take, like: What is actually going to stop Israel at the end of the day?

I mean, it could, it could.

There was little consensus about President Biden's ability to quickly negotiate an end to the war.

But there was one issue that most believed could swing the election in his favor.

Because I met several young women who were like, “I can’t stand Joe Biden, but I can stand abortion.”

How big of an issue do you think abortion will be for young voters?

Massive, massive.

Because I think this is the issue that conservatives are concerned with, right?

The Conservatives are all about small government, and you're right.

Now it's about creating restrictions.

I think Joe Biden could win a lot of votes by simply supporting Donald Trump's abolition of abortion.

For many people, abortion is something that is very similar, I don't want to say “after,” but something that is “similar” is at the forefront.

For example, when they think about policies that affect them every day.

This is something that will come into play a lot more.

In a battleground like Michigan, voters like Saba, Alec, Melinda and Max could ultimately determine the state.

We asked them to summarize what they think national politicians should know about young voters.

Regardless of which party you belong to or not, or whether you are independent.

We don't like political division.

There are many solutions.

Out there, but I don't think we can reach them with all the tension in the country.

Party ID is not their preferred label.

Like they're more likely to have their Taylor Swift bumper sticker than a Democratic one.

We will not join a political party forever.

They can't count on that.

For the sake of her career.

They need to listen to what we say now because at some point we will be the ones who get the majority of their votes.

It may not happen now, but in 5 to 10 years.

Beware.

I tell them that.

A strong threat.

We all think so.

Anna Harden

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