Exit polls from Tuesday’s election show first-time voters backed Biden by a more than 2-to-1 margin. More broadly, young voters 18-29 voted for Joe Biden at nearly the same rate, 62 percent to Donald Trump’s 35 percent. Biden even bested Hillary Clinton in this age group, outperforming her by 6 percentage points.
To understand why young people overwhelmingly embraced Biden’s socialist agenda for healthcare and the economy, Americans for Limited Government spoke with 19-year-old Meridian Wappett, a college junior at Utah State University who voted for Biden.
“My biggest issue was climate policy,” Wappett said. “I really believe in protecting our public lands and our planet for future generations. Trump’s drilling and fracking policies have directly hurt my family.”
Wappett explained that her father used to be a river raft guide in Alaska and her uncle is an Iditarod dog sled racer. She said climate change has hurt both of their businesses. “A lot of my family works in outdoor industries and jobs and it’s very important to me that we protect our lands from climate change,” Wappett said.
She added that she also has family on the California coast who have been “devastated by storms and forest fires caused by climate change.”
On the issue of healthcare, Wappett does not view Biden’s single-payer healthcare plan as socialism. She just thinks it makes sense for her. “Under Obamacare, I can stay on my parents’ health insurance until I am 26 and I will have my pre-existing condition covered.”
Overall, voter turnout was up among the country’s estimated voter population about 16 percent compared to the 2016 election. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, turnout was up about 11 percent.
Wappett said she and her friends were very motivated to vote and she says using social media and texting she was able to connect with them and encourage them all to vote. “In my close circle, I would say 100 percent of them voted, and among my peers, I think a majority did. We are a huge voting block and I we want to make a difference. We want our voices heard.”
Interestingly, the Gen Z voters, ages 18-24, voted for Biden in even greater numbers than did the 25- to 29-year-old voters, 76 to 55 percent respectively.
Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning is troubled by young people’s embrace of socialism.
“Socialism is simply incompatible with freedom and prosperity,” explained Manning. “Everywhere it has been tried, it has failed.”
When it comes to young people staying on their parent’s healthcare plans, Manning explained that insurers would offer that option without a government mandate because it’s popular.
“Government mandates drive up costs and reduce choice,” Manning said. “As a nation, we must do a better job of educating our young people about economics and freedom.”
Perhaps the most effective way to reach younger voters is through social media. Young America’s Foundation (YAF) actively targets young people across a variety of digital platforms. As votes were still being counted in the presidential race, YAF tweeted a short video featuring historian Burt Folsom.
“Throughout history, the United States has been a force for good around the world,” said Folsom. “Sure, America has its flaws, but America has stepped in to support other nations, and even its enemies, in ways that have never been done before. No other nation has been so generous to friends and enemies alike, but that American spirit has been carried throughout history.”
Another conservative group that messages to young people, Turning Point USA, recently shared a video highlighting the failures of socialism on the Navajo Reservation in the American Southwest.
“These Navajos expose everything through their personal stories: ‘Socialism took my brother, said Albert, a Navajo business owner.‘I didn’t realize how corrupt things were. My peers, they live in poverty and they don’t even know it,” said Loara, a young Navajo entrepreneur.”
Americans for Limited Government recently launched an Instagram page to better connect with younger audiences.
“My friends and I use Instagram a lot,” said Megan Marzzacco, 22-year-old communications assistant at Americans for Limited Government. “The posts we are doing here at ALG are fun and a little edgy. We want young people to know that capitalism and conservative values are what make America great!”
Catherine Mortensen is Vice President of Communications at Americans for Limited Government.