Memo to Joe Biden: You Are Losing Young Voters


You have a great difficulty with the voters 35 years old and younger. They do not believe that you are relevant to their concerns. And they do not plan to vote for you. And quietly, they have become the crucial issue to this Presidential race. You cannot win without them.

These younger voters are concerned about war, immigration, inflation. They do not hear you and they cannot hear you, you are to them simply a table talking.

To win the election in November, for that is your true imperative, you must make some changes. The Vice President is irrelevant to this younger generation and should be reassigned to the State Department. 

A new Vice President should be young, even abrasive, but by all means must be relevant to the younger generation. The choice must be well outside the box of all others concerned. It will be the true courage of this party.

You should hire Greta Gerwig, to help with design and with plot.  You must understand that Barbie was brilliant, more brilliant than you realized and in some ways more brilliant than you. And completely relevant.

You have, at the moment, little style, less range, and a narrow plot. You have been driven to this. Revive the traditional and bold anti-war stance that has been a strong part of the Democrats, particularly since the 1960s. Make promises — this new generation knows perfectly you may not keep many of them but they want to hear them, they want the hope.

Bring some glamor. Greta Gerwig will help with that. Former President Obama remarkably seemed to lose sight that the final six months of term has a singular task, to keep power in hand and pass it correctly. Your task, in the final six months, is to keep the Presidency in hand and safe.

The Democratic Party must declare that it is an Anti-War Party. Put some youth into this party, perilous as the days and events may seem. In a way, you have been cornered into a dullness and a reactive shape. Push back! You will need someone much different than Kamala Harris, to offset the age and style of President Biden. Whoever you choose, they must under all conditions be admired by the younger generation. They must believe that the new Vice President is the best future.

You have no choice but to pressure Israel to end their assault on Gaza. They could accurately point out that 24 men in Dockers flew two planes into the Twin Towers and the U.S. response was to destroy Iraq completely, even as it was not actually the villain. But Israel must stop; it is enough — these are days that desperately need repair, not revenge. Ukraine must somehow improve — it cannot simply be interminable. Find a way.

You have three old men, Putin, Trump, and Netanyahu, causing incredible damage to hope, to dignity, to progress, to repair. You must find a way to be and to appear, as everything that they are not. Then you will win.

Peter Miller
Peter Miller
Peter Miller runs the Peter Miller Design Bookshop, in Pioneer Square, in the alley between First Avenue and Alaska Way. He is there, every day. He has written three books, Lunch at the Shop, Five Ways to Cook, and How to Wash the Dishes. A fourth book, Shopkeeping, A Manual, will be published in Spring 2024, by Princeton Architectural Press.


  1. Sadly, we are a society obsessed with youth. Biden has to walk a tight rope. He cannot be judged on single issues like Gaza. He has led as well as possible in a world of denial on the climate issue. The demands on him are similar to the single issue abortion obssession that the Right has had up to now. Young people need to consider that this is not a choice between Biden and their favorite youth activist. This is between Biden and Trump, who denies climate change, would be even more pro-Israel, and threatens democracy itself. I saw my fellow young people make this terrible mistake in 1968 when we rejected Humphrey and got Nixon, and in 2016 when folks went Bernie or Bust and got Trump. At times like this strategy must be given equal weight with principle, or we will have the opposite of everything we want. Tell the youth that, don’t tell Biden what he has to do.

    • I would add to that Ronald Reagan’s election of 1980. I, like a lot of my people my age voting for the first time, considered John Anderson, who ran as an Independent and won 6.6%, helping Reagan win big over President Jimmy Carter. And also, in 2000, when a whole lot of young people were enamored of Ralph Nader, who got 2.74%, and handed the election to George W. Bush over Al Gore.

      How many times do young people have to make these mistakes before they believe the historical record?

      • Problem is that younger voters today have no recollection of the 2000 election, and probably don’t have any sense of the Nader fiasco (much less 1980). I hope they figure it out, but wouldn’t surprise me at all if they have to learn that very hard lesson the hard way.

      • It seems you’ve forgotten Florida, with the ‘hanging chads,’ a recount of votes, an impatient U.S. Supreme Court with its decision to stop the recount, which played an important part in determining that Florida’s electoral votes went to G.W. Bush.

  2. The meat and potatoes of the electorate in key states that will re-elect Joe Biden are voters 35-60, many with college degrees and most without. Outside of college towns and the 10% information elite, voters under 30 have an unreliable voting record and can reflect the views of their parents.
    Yes, younger Democrats could have suggested a change of generation, but given the calendar that time has passed.
    And also remember, just because a voters are young, doesn’t mean they are uber liberals.

  3. A very different kind of column. You’re listening to younger people. Impressive. Though “the meat and potatoes of the electorate” are older, younger voters are numerous enough to make a difference in a close election. Looking forward to your next book. I’ll be up from Portland to get a copy.

  4. I think we need to choose a new ticket entirely. Biden lost me with his unflagging support of Israel, which is credibly accused of genocide – using American – made bombs, which means Biden has led the country into being complicit with genocide.
    Yesterday I got an “urgent” survey from the Democratic Party – Gaza and Israel were not even mentioned in the survey. I want Amy Klobuchar for Presidential candidate. She’s from the Midwest and she’s one of 26 senators openly asking for accountability from Israel. The Republicans invited Netanyahu to speak to Congress, embarrassing Obama. Biden’s going along with that view. This is not trivial. An Australian independent journalist ran an interesting piece a few days ago. ALL OVER the world, ordinary people are not talking about local issues. They’re talking about Gaza. I think they identify with the Palestinians. Any damned superpower with nukes can do the same to them as Israel is doing …..

  5. Youngness is only one factor, and not to my mind the most significant. 17% of Black voters went for Trump when he was on the ballot last time. Immigrant and second and third generation Asians and Latin Americans are leaving the Republican Party in droves. Many of these voters do not support DEI, affirmative action, unlimited immigration or the focus on trans rights. The Democratic Party needs to drift as fast as possible back to the center or we will be looking at not just one but many Republican administrations ahead.


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