Young Adults Say Spending Bills Could Help Boost Biden’s Approval

Two-thirds of adults under the age of 30 want Congress to pass some combination of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure agreement and President Joe Biden’s larger social spending package, according to a Generation Lab/Axios poll released on Monday.

A plurality (47%) of young Americans said Democrats would be more likely or much more likely to keep control of Congress following next year’s midterm elections if the infrastructure or social spending bills passed; while 35% said it would make no difference; and 17% said it would make them less likely or a lot less likely to stay in power.

However, respondents are divided over the legislative strategy to pursue or how much spending to include in the bills, which complicates the dilemma for Democrats over how to please young voters without alienating others, as can be seen in a further breakdown of the survey:

  • 40% of the respondents said Congress should pass the $1.2 trillion “hard” infrastructure plan, regardless of what happens to “soft” infrastructure, while 27% favored holding out for the reconciliation package (which Biden once targeted for $3.5 trillion but now says must be closer to $2 trillion to pass), even if the gamble meant the Senate-passed infrastructure deal might not be enacted. Another 33% said Congress should pass neither bill because the country can’t afford it, a view dominated by Republicans and those with high school degrees or some college.
  • Biden’s approval has suffered a sharp drop among those under 30. Only 11% of independents said their approval of the president has gone up since he took office, while 46% said it has gone down. Even among young Democrats, the percentage who say approve of Biden since he entered the White House has gone down (29%) is more than than those who say it has gone up (26%).
  • In another worrying sign for the president, his handling of the coronavirus crisis was a mix with younger respondents, as 30% say he hasn’t enacted enough pandemic measures while 29% say he has put too many in place.
  • All sectors blamed the unvaccinated the most for the country’s grim coronavirus situation, but with different degrees of conviction: 55% of Democrats, 34% of independents and 21% of Republicans said unvaccinated Americans are the force most responsible for the nation’s situation.

The poll was carried out in two waves, from Sept. 30-Oct. 5 with a nationally representative sample of 812 respondents ages 18-29, and Sept. 30-Oct. 8 with a nationally representative sample of 804 respondents in the same age range. The margins of error for the survey were +/- 3.4 percentage points.

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