Since the 2016 presidential election, more than 15 million people have turned 18, making young people a critical voter bloc for the 2020 presidential elections this November.
Like their elders, the youth vote is not a monolith or a unified voting bloc that aligns on all issues and demographics. Gender, like race, will impact youth voting in its own way.
Among millennial voters, born between 1981-1996, women were more likely to identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, according to the Pew Research Center.
Pew reported that 60% of millennial women associated with the Democratic Party while 31% associated with the Republican, or GOP. For millennial men, the gap was much smaller, with 48% associating with the Democratic Party and 44% associating with the GOP.
“Gender issues have been a big consideration for me, specifically just in regard to communicating with people of another gender,” said Christian Lohrenz, a senior at Minnesota State University at Mankato.
“LGBTQ rights, equality, those are big deal to me,” Lohrenz said. “You look at the ban on transgender people being in the military, those are certainly things that I disagreed with and I was cognizant of when I was picking my candidate.”
Lohrenz said he will be voting for Biden because he agrees with the ideas the Biden campaign put forth for education, criminal justice reform, and climate change.
For young women ages 18-29, 60% polled say they intend to vote for Joe Biden, according to data from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.
CIRCLE’s 2020 pre-election youth poll also shows that young women of color support Joe Biden, with 77% of young Asian women, 71% of young Black women and 61% of young Latinas intending to vote for Biden.
However, this does not mean they approve of the Democratic presidential nominee, as the polling asks. Only 30% of young women of color approve or strongly approve of Biden.
On the other hand, 81% of young women disapprove of President Donald Trump. Among young women of color, the percentage is higher, with 94% of young Asian women, 88% of young Latinas, and 85% of young Black women.
“I’m voting for Joe Biden because I don’t agree with Trump at all with some of his policies and the way he treats people,” said Jenna Peterson, a junior at Minnesota State University at Mankato. “Is Biden perfect? No. But he is the better option, and he wants to fight for the policies that I believe in such as reproductive health, women’s rights and climate change.”
Kaylee Corvin, a sophomore at the University of Virginia, says that while she doesn’t always agree with Trump as a person, she will be voting for him because he aligns best with her political views.
“Being able to defend yourself with a firearm: I think that this goes down to really be able to protect yourself and stand up for yourself than rely on the government. I think that’s a huge thing for women empowerment,” she said.
“For reproductive issues, I stand a bit more on the pro-life side. But it’s definitely more pro-birth control, pro-access to sexual education, and better access to adoption and funding programs to support mothers,” Corvin added.
Grace Leto, a junior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, said she, too, favors the Trump/Pence ticket.
“I voted for [Trump] because I strongly believe that he is the best candidate. He has strengthened our economy so much these past four years, is bold in his actions, and treasures/respects the mission of the military,” she said.
“Trump is not the best with words. He has said some comments before that are pretty sexist and I really don’t know what he has done in depth for women’s rights. I do know the recent appointment of the new Supreme Court justice is female, and he especially wanted to keep a woman in the Supreme Court,” Leto said.
The recent confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court, eight days before the presidential elections, has also highlighted gender issues in the minds of many young voters.
“With Amy Coney Barrett becoming the new Supreme Court Justice, I’m definitely concerned about my health care and my rights. She’s had a history of not being for abortion and the Affordable Care Act, and she’s Trump-appointed,” said Shruti Nallappa, a master’s student at George Washington University. Nallappa said she will vote for Joe Biden.
Barrett is on record as disagreeing with abortion, as well as the Affordable Care Act. But some view it as a success for women’s representation.
“Honestly, I’m a little confused from where all the hate comes from. A lot of times people talk about empowering women and this is an example of an extremely successful, strong woman,” said Trevor McDowell, a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.
This Voter Group Could Sway 2020 ElectionWhile youth vote is predicted to have a significant impact, young white males may play an outsized role in determining the outcome
McDowell says he will vote for Trump because of his strong support of the Second Amendment, Trump’s economic policies, and because he believes there is a “much deeper corruption” in career politicians.
Overall, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has more support from women than men with 56% of women and 50% of men leaning Biden, according to the Pew Research Center. President Trump sees more support from men than women with 48% of men and 42% of women supporting Trump or leaning Trump.