Robert Svaia is about to make a choice that he says will feel like a chore.
The day will come in about two months’ time, on the first Tuesday of November, when hundreds of millions of other Americans will also confront a similar consequential decision. Except the 25-year-old Chicago-based designer wishes he could see it that way, when he heads to the polls to cast a vote for either former Vice President Joe Biden or President Donald Trump during the 2020 presidential election.
“I will be voting for Biden, but it’s difficult to look at Biden with optimism,” Svaia says. “I don’t think anyone is going to be jumping out of their seats if he wins. People are exhausted, and maybe they let out a sigh of relief a little bit, but nothing is really going to fundamentally change the next day.”
In a pivotal election, many young voters remain unsure on at least one key issue
Political analysts are calling the November vote one of the most pivotal in modern history. But young people — many of whom are coming of age during an unprecedented pandemic while others have grown up in the shadow of some of the worst economic downturns and terrorist attacks in American history — have set the stage for a pervasive generational gap that has also become a political one.
That might be the driving force behind the results of a new Bankrate survey, which found that younger voters were more likely than older individuals to not know which candidate would be better for their personal financial situation.
More than a quarter (27 percent) of Generation Z (those between the ages of 18 and 23) and 23 percent of millennials (ages 24-39) said they were undecided over whether the Democratic or Republican ticket would be better for their personal finances. That compares with 18 percent of Generation X (ages 40-55), 6 percent of baby boomers (ages 56-74) and 3 percent of the Silent Generation (age 75 and older).
“A substantial number of younger people indicated they are undecided on at least the personal finance question,” says Mark Hamrick, Bankrate’s senior economic analyst. “Since we do not know their intention to vote overall, we cannot say for certain how many have yet to decide, but undoubtedly there are some.”
Experts, however, believe that the young voter disillusionment issue is only part of the story. At the heart of the divide might also be financial literacy, campaign messaging and a uniting opinion that personal finance might not be what young voters are keeping their eyes on.
“Just because these issues don’t rise to the top doesn’t mean they aren’t important issues for young people. But financial issues really aren’t at the front-and-center,” says Rey Junco, director of research at Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.