What’s on the minds of 12 young voters

Whether demonstrating against gun violence, advocating for stronger action on climate change, or lobbying for or against abortion rights, young Americans of all political stripes have engaged in some of the most important in the 21st century.

Electorally, however, they have often struggled to make their voices heard, despite growing turnout in 2018 and 2020.

A New York Times/Siena College poll found likely voters under 30 plan to back a Democrat for Congress by a 12-point margin in next month’s election, compared to a narrow advantage for Republicans. among likely voters in general. But, compared to older generations, they were less likely to say they vote at all.

Twelve voters in their twenties, living in states with competitive Senate or gubernatorial races, spoke to New York Times photographers about the issues they consider most important. Although President Biden’s plan to cancel student debt made headlines, none said it was a major problem. Instead, they discussed their views on abortion, the climate, the economy, and immigration — or research, as a 24-year-old woman from Wisconsin put it, “what’s the best for the collective compared to the singular”. —Maggie Astor


Jayda Priester, 25, lives in Atlanta and sells life insurance. She said she had no political affiliations and hadn’t decided who she wanted for governor.

“There’s no one who has made me feel like I should vote for them yet. I’m looking at the least worst options.

“The most important issue for me is funding the police. I am extremely in favor of funding the police and making other resources available for crisis management and de-escalation.


Kyle Moore, 28, lives in Poynette. He’s a tractor technician who identifies as a Republican and wants to “see fuel prices go down” to ease the pressure on farmers and ranchers.

“I feel like the 20s generation is not speaking or voicing their opinion as strongly as they should like the older generations. do not speak or vote clearly enough to see the country succeed.


Kadie Mercier, 29, from Philadelphia is a registered nurse in the emergency department of a local hospital. She is a registered Democrat.

“As an emergency department nurse, we constantly see people who are in very poor health because they can’t afford their medications or find a primary care provider. And so that’s something I’m really passionate about, making sure these people can avoid going to the emergency room.


Chris Ahmann, 18, of Madison is a freshman in mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin and a first-generation Filipino American.

“I like something that’s a little more bipartisan. Maybe more independent. Because there is more variety than limit, because it is more spectrum than just binary.

“Immigration is really close to me. I am one of the only people in my family who is in the United States right now. I was born here, but they want to come here to the United States, I wish it was easier for people.


Emily McDermott, 27, of Lansdowne works from home as a seamstress. She has a daughter and is pregnant. She is a registered Democrat but plans to vote for Doug Mastriano, a far-right Republican, for governor.

“Life begins in my mother’s womb, and I believe that is an inalienable right. And I don’t think it’s up to us to decide who lives and who dies.

How Times reporters cover politics. We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staffers can vote, they are not allowed to support or campaign for political candidates or causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or donating money or raising funds for any political candidate or electoral cause.

Regarding Mr. Mastriano: “It was during the shutdown, and I lost my job because of the pandemic. And so, he was the only one fighting to get everyone to reopen jobs. »

New Hampshire

Griffin Brunette, 24, lives in Hampton and works in marketing. He is a registered Democrat.

On climate change: “It’s a ticking time bomb. We have the power to effect change and make our voices heard, and it all starts with voting.

“I think a huge problem with getting people on board with what’s going on is that it’s become a political thing, and I think people on both sides should realize that the future is between our And we can do something about that by putting aside those Democrat/Republican things.


Jared Tate, 28, left, and Derrick Whitehead, 29, of Ypsilanti are friends from high school who produce a podcast. Mr. Tate is a registered Democrat and works at Target while studying communications at Eastern Michigan University.

“If Trump runs again, I will consider voting for him, mainly because of the financial aspect of it. Trump has done a lot for small business owners that a lot of people don’t know about. I voted for Biden last time and wanted to give him a chance.

Mr. Whitehead is unaffiliated with any party and voted to re-elect President Donald J. Trump in 2020.

“Honestly, I don’t know if I’m going to vote or not.”

“I consider it more personal. If it has nothing to do with me and my surroundings or my family, it does not concern me.


Emily Matzke, 24, lives in Prairie du Sac. She does not identify with any political party and works in agricultural marketing.

“I just wish people had more ability to compromise and know that not everything is going to be perfect for everyone, but if it could be better for the majority, then at least it’s best for all.”

“I think we can only move forward as kind people and countries if we can find a way to be kind. What’s best for the collective versus the singular.


Angel Martinez, 20, of Tempe studying political science with a minor in Spanish at Arizona State University and works as a night receptionist at his apartment complex. He’s a Democrat, with immigration, climate and voting rights his biggest issues.

“We just need to go back to our roots of welcoming immigrants to this country. Many people have a very bad feeling towards immigrants, especially immigrants from Latin American countries. Especially Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, all those countries, just because there’s this idea that jobs are being stolen or welfare is being stolen.


Jake Heller, 26, from Philadelphia is a registered Democrat who works as a cheese maker at Reading Terminal Market.

“What are the most important issues for me? Probably the classics: abortion, you know, bodily autonomy, the environment, and I would say gun control.

On abortion rights: “I think it’s important to kind of be at the forefront of voting for this and to have a strong opinion about it. And that’s kind of how I was raised.


Kelly Ocotl, 28, of Milwaukee is an executive aide who attended a rally where Senator Ron Johnson appeared with Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida.

“We have a son, so education is a big issue. But also the economy, you know, just trying to support our family is really important and it’s kind of falling apart right now.


Kish Williams, 25, from Philadelphia works as a dog handler and supervisor, is not affiliated with a party.

“I know everyone, you know, talks about LGBT politics, trans rights, trans issues, trans protection and drugs, and being a trans person myself, that’s a concern for me. And also, for Philadelphia in particular, I’m really interested to see what people are doing with the food and homelessness crisis that we’re having right now.