One thing voters agree on: New voices are needed in politics
As he campaigns for a Manhattan congressional seat against fellow Democrats twice his age, Suraj Patel, 38, is tapping into his generation’s frustration with those who have held office for decades.
In his account, Reps. Jerry Nadler, 75, and Carolyn Maloney, 76, are part of a generation of Democrats who came to power in the 1990s to fail on issues ranging from guns to climate change and to abortion. The redistricting process that merged their congressional districts offers a chance for new leadership, Patel says.
“If we keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result: that’s not just the definition of insanity,” he said. “It’s also the definition of the function.”
More than 1,100 miles west in Iowa’s presidential proving ground, Republican Jeremiah Bronson also wondered if anyone other than 76-year-old Donald Trump could carry his party into the future . Bronson has expressed a growing interest in Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, 55.
“He seems to be on the same page as conservatives across the country,” Bronson, 39, said as he dined on grilled pork sandwiches with half a dozen other Story County Republicans.
In a nation tottering along seemingly every divide imaginable, there is a shared desire among Democrats and Republicans for a new generation of political leaders. The conversation is more pronounced when it comes to the White House as Trump considers another campaign and President Joe Biden faces skepticism about his ability to mount a bid for re-election in 2024 despite being 82 years old.
“There’s just a sense of gender, this rematch between these two old dudes feels ridiculous to people,” said Sarah Longwell, a Republican strategist who hosts almost weekly focus groups with voters across the country and across the spectrum. Politics.
There are recurring calls for youth and change in American politics.
Bill Clinton’s call for a new generation of leaders helped him rise from governor of Arkansas to the first baby boomer president in 1992. In 2008, Barack Obama’s relative youth was an asset in his primary campaign against Hillary Clinton and in the general election against Arizona Sen. John McCain.
More recently, Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential bid gained traction with a focus on new leadership before being overtaken by Biden, seen by many Democrats as the safest choice against Trump.
The dynamic has changed since then, with some Democratic voters furious that Biden and congressional leaders haven’t done more to protect abortion rights, respond more aggressively to a wave of mass shootings and fight climate change. .
A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll shows 83% of American adults say the country is on the wrong track. Only 36% approve of Biden’s leadership overall, while 62% disapprove. AP-NORC polls in recent months have revealed growing pessimism among members of his own Democratic party about Biden, the direction of the country and the state of the economy. An AP-NORC poll from January found just 28% of those polled and 48% of Democrats said they want Biden to run for re-election in 2024.
Julián Castro, former Obama housing secretary and former presidential candidate, said there was no doubt his party members were frustrated and that Democrats in Washington needed to show urgency and deliver results . In a telephone interview from the Texas Democratic Convention in Dallas, he said Democrats seemed energized.
“My immediate hope is that this angst and frustration will be channeled positively into turnout in November,” he said, referring to the midterm elections.
Biden has repeatedly insisted he will run for re-election. But if he decides to step down, a host of young Democrats could be in the running. Among them is Vice President Kamala Harris, 57. California Governor Gavin Newsom, 54, and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, 57, have drawn attention for their responses to the Supreme Court ruling on abortion and mass shootings.
Some Democrats running for office this year have been clear about their desire for a new generation to take their place in politics.
Last month, South Carolina Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham proposed not only term limits but also age limits for office holders, saying it was time to end to America’s “geriatric oligarchy” of politicians who remain “in office well past their prime”. .” For Cunningham, who recently turned 40, that includes the incumbent he hopes to oust in November, Republican Henry McMaster, 75, who is the state’s longest serving governor.
But Cunningham also said the proposal was intended to apply to Biden.
For Republicans, the most pressing debate often seems to focus less explicitly on age and more on whether the party should quit Trump. This is especially true following House committee hearings on Jan. 6 that drew fresh attention to his desperate efforts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election.
The January 6 hearings could send voters looking elsewhere.
An AP-NORC in June found that 48% of American adults say Trump should be charged with a crime for his role in the US Capitol siege. The January AP-NORC poll showed people were just as disappointed with Trump running again in 2024 as they were with Biden: Only 27% of American adults wanted Trump to run again, including a slim majority – 56% – Republicans. That poll also showed the former president’s popularity with the GOP had dropped somewhat, with 71% of Republicans saying they have a favorable opinion of Trump, compared to 78% in a September 2020 AP-NORC/USAFacts poll.
Longwell, the Republican strategist, said the hearings seem to be having an impact even among Republican voters who don’t watch the sessions or are unconvinced by them because they are reminiscent of the uproar that surrounded Trump.
“One of the things I hear coming back over and over again in the bands is that Trump has a lot of baggage and there’s all these other stars, Republican stars, and maybe he’s time Trump was like an elderly statesman,” she said. .
A number of figures from Trump’s world and beyond are seen as potential challengers in 2024. Trump and his associates are particularly focused on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who, at 43, is increasingly seen as a young heir to the former president’s brand. Politics.
Other Republicans moving more openly toward a presidential race include Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, 45; former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, 50; Texas Senator Ted Cruz, 51; former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 58; and former Vice President Mike Pence, 63.
Pat Brady, the former Illinois Republican Party chairman who is not a Trump supporter, said he thinks the “fever has died down” when it comes to Trump’s stance with the GOP.
“I think the combination of him spends all of his time, every speech, kicking off 2020. Voters are generally looking forward to it. They are not looking back,” he said.
Brady said part of voters’ frustrations with their political leaders is age-related.
“When you look at leadership, I’m old and these guys make me look young,” Brady, 61, said. “It’s a young and dynamic country, fundamentally, and we have a group of older people running it.”
Associated Press writers Thomas Beaumont in Cambridge, Iowa, Hannah Fingerhut in Washington, and Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.
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