Photo by Adam Schultz / Biden for President

Jasmine Razeghi writes on why Biden has yet to prove himself to an entire Gen Z generation. 

Gen Z is not convinced that Joe Biden is the right candidate for President of the United States. The generation is far more progressive and radical than Biden could ever be, compared to other generations. Among Gen Z, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were the most popular candidates, but it is beyond the ideas and more about inclusivity.

According to an NYT article, Gen Z just wants Biden to listen and be inclusive of their generation when supporting policies or hosting events. Young people were at the center of Sanders’ and Warren’s campaigns. However, Biden does not get Gen Z excited. 

Biden’s Reputation

 Joe Biden holds a generally positive image. As someone who was the Vice President of a well known and loved President Obama, Biden has a familiar face for a majority of Americans. From an anti-Trump standpoint, it is difficult to find a candidate who does not greatly contrast from the current President. However, is it enough to vote for a candidate to get Trump out of office if there is so much progress that will not happen during, say, a Biden presidency? Will a Biden Administration solely contain a lot of undoing rather than creating change?

According to a recent CNN poll conducted by SSRS, an overwhelming majority of Biden supporters are more anti-Trump than pro-Biden. That speaks volumes to the base that the former Vice President created for himself. Will Gen Z accept a candidate who is only seeking to get Trump out of office?

Young voters still look at Biden and see a man accused by Tara Reade of sexual assault, a politician who worked to increase police and jail presence when he voted for the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, and a presidential candidate who recently questioned the blackness of Black non-Biden supporters during an interview on “The Breakfast Club”.

How He Has Been Put to the Test

This painful time in American history put Biden to the test with his proposals and leadership behavior in response to COVID-19 and the current protests. However, young voters still look at Biden and see a man accused by Tara Reade of sexual assault, a politician who worked to increase police and jail presence when he voted for the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, and a presidential candidate who recently questioned the blackness of Black non-Biden supporters during an interview on “The Breakfast Club”.

During one of the Democratic presidential primary debates, Sen. Kamala Harris called out Biden on his previous comments about “civilly” working with segregationists decades ago. Perhaps in Biden’s perspective, displaying his ability to work with an opposing group of people is a positive aspect of himself as a politician. Especially in the polarizing political climate that exists today. However, when he called his work with segregationists civil, it signaled a tolerance that Biden never should have shown in the first place.

The Effort in Winning the Gen Z Vote

 In a YouGov poll from April, among voters aged 18-29 only 10% viewed Biden as very favorable, which was the lowest percentage of any age group. In a Quinnipiac poll from April, 57% of individuals between 18-29 years old said Joe Biden was unfavorable. Included in Biden’s low favorability ratings, Gen Z also had the lowest voter turnout than any other generation with only 46.1% of eligible voters showing up to polls during the 2016 election. 

The former Vice President made progress in addressing where he falls short for youth support. In May, he launched a joint task force that contains the voices of moderate and progressive democratic leaders and experts addressing a plethora of issues including healthcare, immigration, education, the economy, criminal justice, and climate change. He compiled the list in collaboration with former Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders, who was known to be popular among young individuals. It included big progressive names like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Pramila Jayapal in addition to more moderate names like former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Attorney General Eric Holder.

Alongside his senior advisor Symone D. Sanders, Biden also released an initiative for young voters called League 46. It is a program that called for young voters of different backgrounds to get involved in the Biden campaign to “make sure that this January, Joe is in the White House.”  It includes a network for young elected officials, students, and professionals to rally around the Democratic presidential nominee.

 Whether Biden’s commitment to young voters increases youth support will reflect the results in November. Given the choice of Biden, Trump, and any other Third-Party Candidate that may run between now and November, will young Democratic voters vote blue or will they refuse to vote at all?