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Nothing divides Americans like politics. At the same time, young people are showing up to vote. Turnout in America among 18 to 29 year olds shot up in the 2020 election to 55 percent — a level of participation not seen since the 1970s.
Recent voting trends also show the number of young people engaging in conservative politics is on the rise. In 2020, four in ten young people — from 18 to 29 — voted for former President Donald Trump and Trump won that youth vote in seven states.
In this Us & Them episode, host Trey Kay talks with author Kyle Spencer who’s studied that trend and says it’s not an accident. She’s researched the decades-long conservative organizing strategy to engage and mobilize young people. The money connected to values and beliefs can play an enormous and often invisible role in our democratic society. But while money can fund power, it doesn’t necessarily create a singular conservative or progressive vision.
Kay also speaks with Abby Kiesa from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. Kiesa says the trends around youth voting changed somewhat in Trump’s 2016 victory. But she says, there’s a much bigger problem looming in the background – the failure of our own political system in general to make meaningful headway in getting young people to turn up on election day.
This episode of Us & Them is presented with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council and the CRC Foundation.
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