Younger voters warm up to Biden in new poll

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WASHINGTON — Here’s some good news for the 77-year-old who’s running to oust Donald Trump: Younger voters may be warming up to him.

Voters under 40 now view Joe Biden more favorably than they did earlier this year, and they’re now even more likely to choose him over Trump.

That’s according to a new analysis of the September NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted for Quibi and NBC News. (The poll was conducted Sept. 13-16, before the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.)

The September data show that 38 percent of voters who are either members of Generation Z (ages 18-23) or millennials (ages 24-39) have positive views of Biden, compared with 40 percent who have negative views.

The numbers come one week after NBC News and Quibi released a comprehensive analysis of about 2,000 younger voters reached by pollsters at Hart Research and Public Opinion Strategies from January to August. In that group, just 28 percent of young voters had positive views of Biden, while 41 percent had negative views.

The share of young voters who give Biden a negative rating has been stable — essentially unchanged from 41 percent from January through August to 40 percent in September.

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Rather, the improvement in Biden’s image came from a 10-point jump in the share of younger voters who say they have positive views of him.

The movement is reflected across gender and racial lines. The share who say they have positive views of Biden is up by 11 points among younger men, 10 points among younger women, 11 points among white voters and 9 points among voters of color.

Another big jump in Biden’s favorability has come among younger liberals. In the earlier merged data, 44 percent of younger liberals had positive views of Biden, while 26 percent had negative views (for a net positive +18). Now, the share with positive views has jumped to 59 percent, while the share with negative views has dropped to 19 percent (for a net positive +40).

(It’s worth noting that the January-August merged data contained responses from some younger voters who were polled before Biden rival Bernie Sanders, a progressive favorite, dropped out of the Democratic nomination race. When he was still running, Sanders was a consistent source of criticism that Biden’s policies were insufficiently progressive.)

Biden has also improved in his ballot standing against Trump. In the January-August data, Biden led Trump by 20 points among voters under 40, 55 percent to 35 percent. Now, in the new September poll, it’s up to a 26-point lead, 59 percent to 33 percent.

One number that stands out: Trump continues to lose ground with younger women — already one of his worst groups. In the merged data, Biden beat Trump among younger women by 39 points (66 percent to 27 percent). In this most recent dataset, Biden’s lead is up to 51 points (72 percent to 21 percent) among women under 40.

The same trend holds true for younger voters of color. In the merged data, Biden beat Trump among young voters of color by 48 points (68 percent to 20 percent). Now, that lead is up to 60 points (75 percent to 15 percent).

Men continue to be the group of younger voters most likely to express support for Trump. In the January-August data, 42 percent said they planned to vote for Trump, while 45 percent said they would vote for Biden. Now, 49 percent back Biden, and 42 percent support Trump.

Trump’s favorability overall among young voters continues to be deeply underwater. Nearly two-thirds — 62 percent — say they have negative views of him, while 31 percent have positive views. That’s similar to his performance among these voters from January to August, when 58 percent viewed him negatively and 31 percent viewed him positively.

The September NBC/Wall Street Journal poll was conducted Sept. 13-16, 2020. 320 Generation Z and millennial voters were surveyed, with a margin of error of 5.48 percentage points.

The earlier merged data set compiled all poll respondents in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from January through August 2020. A total of 457 Generation Z respondents were polled, with a margin of error of +/- 4.58 percentage points. A total of 1,611 millennial respondents were polled, with a margin of error of +/- 2.44 percentage points.

Image: Carrie DannCarrie Dann

Carrie Dann is a political editor for NBC News. 

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