We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

The 2024 Presidential Election: The Perspectives of Our Youth Voters

As Bronx Science seniors turn 18 and enter the world of civic activism, how do they approach utilizing their newest right? Are youth voters showing up at the polls?
Ayana Chari
Jaclyn Eum ’25 registers to vote at the Bronx Science voter registration initiative.

Congratulations, you’re an adult! Turning 18 brings responsibilities like taxes, newfound freedoms, and the ability to exercise your right to vote. For the majority of seniors at Bronx Science, this is rapidly approaching. So how does the newest generation of young voters view our democracy? Are they ready to become active citizens of the United States?

Recently, the presidential primaries came to a close. The Republican primaries proved to be a chaotic affair with two main candidates remaining after Rob DeSantis dropped out in January. Nikki Haley was going against Donald Trump in the race for the Republican nomination. However, as Trump continuously won more delegates than Haley, and after Super Tuesday in which one-third of the delegates were up for grabs, Haley only won one state. In early March 2024, Haley officially dropped out of the race, making Trump the only candidate for the Republican nomination. While there are other Democratic candidates, President Joe Biden has been steadily backing in the delegates and will be the Democratic nomination. As of now, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have won enough delegates to be their respective party’s nominee. Thus, America finds itself transported back to the 2020 election. However, this time Trump is not the one in office; President Biden is. As we enter the general election, Trump versus Biden once again it’s important to see what our voters are thinking and what each candidate is doing to appeal to their demographics.

Joe Biden

On Super Tuesday, the United States presidential primary election day when the greatest number of elections are held, Biden dominated his few rivals, – typically winning around 80% of the vote per state. Trump, meanwhile, rarely hit that mark. Biden can only beat who’s on the ballot, and even with an estimable protest vote popping up in several states, the president has the backing of his party’s rank-and-file. Biden has more room to win over his intra-party detractors, the most numerous and vocal of whom are enraged by his handling of Israel’s war in Gaza. That indignation will not completely disappear with time, but it is likely to become less volatile. (And that’s before Trump’s commentary on the matter gets more scrutiny.)

However, in the February 27th Michigan primarymore than 100,000 Democrats voted “uncommitted” in the party’s presidential primary, signaling their contempt for the Biden administration’s Israel policy and its handling of the war in Gaza.

Donald Trump

Even though he dominated in Super Tuesday’s Republican primaries, there were some warning signs for Trump as he moved toward a general election matchup with Biden.

Nikki Haley’s strongest performance came in cities, college towns, and suburbs. As a result, the suburbs could pose problems for Trump. College-educated voters in those regions have shifted hard in favor of Democrats since Trump emerged as the Republican standard bearer in 2016, and the support for Haley on Tuesday could signal his continued weakness.

In North Carolina, a swing state with a rapidly growing population of college-educated voters, 81% of those who backed Haley on Tuesday said they would not vote for Trump in November. Even though she is no longer in the race, Haley was one of Trump’s strongest competitors and her voter base is not necessarily on board with Trump’s policies which could mean they do not switch their vote to the Republican nomination.

Young Voters

I had conversations with a few different students who have already registered and plan to vote in the upcoming election. Levi Miller ’24 spoke about how he views the 2024 Presidential Election as a new voter. “I think the two-party system is more effective than gridlocked parliamentary systems like the Israeli Knesset. Since ruling coalitions sit both in government and legislature, government stability relies on the support of small fringe parties, and governments often collapse. Israel held 5 costly elections over 2 years, which resulted in the election of the most right-wing government in its history,” said Miller. Despite this, when asked to rank how much faith he has in the U.S. government, Miller could only give it a 4 out of 5. While Miller is committed to following politics in his daily life, he also thinks that many of his peers feel apathetic toward political activism and action.

Manu Bosteels ’24 also commented that there is a level of dissatisfaction with American politics across the board. Nobody truly feels happy when looking at the state of the United States government. “I feel like today the two-party system results in little actual progress and it means that a lot of people, progressives especially, feel unsatisfied with both candidates in the general election, which leads to frustration,” said Bosteels.

Yasmine Salha ’24 had a slightly different view on the state of American politics. She also ranked her faith in government as a 4 out of 5, but said, “There is a collective pessimism about the state of politics right now. Every high office seems to be filled almost wholly with officials many decades older than my peers and me, and it especially frustrates me how little attention is spent on climate change by these representatives, which is a topic that depresses me constantly. I do not feel very represented at all in this regard.” Salha is not alone in her opinion. Ayshi Sen ’24 believes that the governmental system needs to be reformed to represent a broader population. “Many people view politics in the U.S. as being kind of hopeless since we are usually given a choice between two very old candidates where neither is really appealing for various reasons. There needs to be substantial change to requirements and restrictions on candidates that run so we aren’t forced to choose between the lesser of two evils for every election,” said Sen.

Changes to the age requirement and term limits have been discussed broadly among those in office and the citizens looking in. The Constitution sets minimum age requirements for many positions but has no maximum currently in place. The minimum age is 35 for presidents, 30 for senators, and 25 for representatives. There is no minimum or maximum age requirement for Supreme Court justices.

Despite these roles being essential to the function of the United States government, the will of the people is not determining who is allowed to be in office. Although there is no age maximum, 79% of Americans favor maximum age limits for elected officials in Washington, D.C., and 74% support such limits for Supreme Court justices. These numbers represent members of both the Democratic and Republican parties: 82% of Republicans and 76% of Democrats support putting a maximum age limit in place for elected officials in Washington, D.C. and 82% of Democrats and 68% of Republicans favor one for Supreme Court justices.

While age limits might appease a large majority of voters, some voters are not certain that they would fix all of the problems in the United States governmental system. “Most of my peers agree that politics in the U.S. are gloomy because we know that there is little action being taken on the most important issues and there is little ability to fix those problems; it isn’t as simple as electing someone else because the system itself is slow and inefficient,” said Bosteels. Going into the 2024 election, many voters are extremely worried about the eventual state of the country should their preferred candidate not win. “I am worried that Trump will win, but also feel somewhat disappointed in four more years of Biden. I think Biden is a much better option than Trump, who actively announces that he would act as a dictator and use the presidency against his opponents, but like past elections, it is disappointing to not feel genuine enthusiasm for any of the candidates,” Bosteels said.

Involvement in politics and an excitement to be civically active comes from wanting to make a change. Having hope that the future can be different is impossible when there is no faith in the elected leaders. When voters do not see anything to hope for or fight for, when young voters are resigned to nothing changing, at least in a beneficial manner, there is less inclination to bother involving themselves at all. Salha seconded this sentiment, commenting on the election itself and the pessimistic view of candidates. “I have been hearing that this election hinges on moderates deciding which candidate is ‘the lesser of two evils.’ This depresses me immensely because a president should be someone that sparks excitement and inspiration from their people, instead of two incredibly old people whose cognitive abilities I have little faith in and whose values about the environment do not align with mine.”

When the young voter population, along with a large majority of other age groups, has no genuine faith in the candidates, what do they find themselves voting for? While our more democratically inclined youth might make it a point to cast a ballot regardless, the same cannot be said for the general population. The phenomenon described by Salha is known as ‘negative advertising.’ It is explained as a vote against the perceived “worse choice.”

Professor Marc Hetherington, a professor of political science at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, conducted a study focusing on the period between 1980-2004. His paper, Turned Off or Turned On? How Polarization Affects Political Engagement found that political polarization does not impact voter involvement.

Hetherington researched the health of a political system during a period characterized by mass disconnect. “Are we less participatory or more? Do we see our government as less responsive or more? Do we trust our government less or more?” Negative advertising suggests that increased intensity of political campaigns can encourage participation despite people not liking their choices because they dislike a different choice even more, Hetherington explains. He hypothesizes that Americans respond “well to a polarized environment even if they purport to dislike all the angry words and actions that accompany it,” and uses the variables of polarization level and voter participation to test it.

Hetherington analyzed the results of the 2006 federal elections and found that moderates did not turn out in greater numbers relative to ideologues to seize back control of the government; voters with no “ideological anchor” seem to be more interested in ends than means. They voted against a party not because they perceived the party as being too ideological, but because they believed it had failed. Moderates do not solely vote on the side of one party and they consistently vote when they see a problem in the politics of a party.

As the candidates seem less and less appealing, something also indicated by Bronx Science students, the voters do not show an interest in showing up. Young Americans “definitely” planning to vote in the next presidential election dropped eight percentage points – from 57% to 49% between 2020 and 2024. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 54.1% of young voters (aged 18-29) voted in 2020, which had the highest youth turnout overall of any election in the 21st century. Another 17% said they will “probably vote” and another 14% said there’s a 50-50 chance.

When young voters just entering the political climate are already disassociated from political activism, there is a messy future ahead. It is necessary to have new, strong voices fighting for rights and making change. Young voters are the ones who need to step up and shape the world that they will be stuck living in.

Next Steps

As the election rapidly approaches, it is important to get involved in any way possible. Voting in the United States is a way to exercise your voice and make the changes that you want. While you might not love any candidate, not voting removes your ability to participate in the world around you. Change comes from citizens coming together and telling their policymakers what they want. Use this time to read about the candidates and their policies, and understand what each administration would bring to the country. You can find information on how to register to vote here and find quick election updates here. 

“Most of my peers agree that politics in the U.S. are gloomy because we know that there is little action being taken on the most important issues and there is little ability to fix those problems; it isn’t as simple as electing someone else because the system itself is slow and inefficient,” said Manu Bosteels ’24.

About the Contributor
Ayana Chari, Staff Reporter
Ayana Chari is a Copy Chief for 'The Science Survey.' She has always appreciated that works of journalism bring together fact and storytelling, informing readers while also being beautiful pieces of literature, ideally. Furthermore, Ayana believes that journalism has the ability to highlight injustices and hold people accountable through a telling of truth. Ayana enjoys writing about current events and politics, because they allow her to write objectively about how different groups of people are affected by policy. Moreover, she finds photojournalism appealing because it is an illustrative addition to writing that solidifies the overall message. Outside of journalism, Ayana is part of the Congressional Debate team, the Girls' Varsity Volleyball team, and is President of the Exposition Magazine. She has a great love for books and music, enjoying many genres in each. Ayana plans on studying political science and the humanities in college.