Guns, Gaza, and grocery bills: A look at Biden & Trump’s stances on the 5 top issues for women and Gen Z

Second Amendment


Two evolving groups of the electorate–women and young voters–are set to make waves in the 2024 presidential election. Both of these groups have had an emerging impact on politics, and pollsters and pundits have a lot to say about how these groups will leave their mark on 2024.

As the voting day nears and the number of candidates in the race narrows, polls comparing incumbent President Joe Biden and leading Republican candidate former President Donald Trump shows the current president has a narrow lead thanks to women voters, according to Jan. 31 Quinnipiac Poll numbers.

This early indication of Biden’s narrow lead among women voters could be a crucial factor in shaping the outcome of the election, emphasizing the significance of women as a pivotal demographic in determining electoral success.

While the primary elections are far from over, Biden and Trump are currently the clear front-runners for the two parties set to face-off in November. It’s not 100% certain the two will be the candidates facing off on election day but because of their past roles, they have a higher chance of being considered front-runners. how these two would fare if voters could cast ballots now with the two remaining within a few points of the other.

Trump is currently losing what was already a slim chance to win the hearts of women voters in America, with poll data suggesting it’s women driving Biden’s current 6-point lead on Trump predicting who will win the election if the two men were to face off in November.

A poll found 58% of female registered voters now support Biden—an increase that propelled Biden to a 6-point lead against Trump in a hypothetical 2024 presidential matchup. The data found Biden’s support among women was just 53% in December and has grown by 5 points in just the last month.

Gen Z is another voting group sure to shake up the polls. There are 41 million members of Gen Z who will be eligible to vote in November, and recent survey data shows they’re more focused on issues, not candidates, NPR reported Jan. 25. The 2020 election had the highest youth voter turnout since 1972, according to data from Statista and more than half (57%) of voters aged 18-29 said they were very likely to vote in November, according to Tisch College Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).

The heightened focus on issues over candidates among Gen Z voters suggests a shift in political priorities, challenging traditional campaign strategies centered solely around individual personalities.

Three pivotal issues have emerged as particularly important to women and Gen Z voters for the 2024 election, based on recent poll data. Reckon broke them down, and here’s what the front-runners have said about each one:

Abortion

The state of abortion in the United States varies depending on the state. In June 2022, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that had protected the right to abortion for nearly 50 years, leaving the legality of abortion in states’ hands.

As of today, February 5, 2024, 14 states have banned abortion completely, according to Guttmacher Institute. These states are Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

In addition to these states, many others have enacted laws that restrict access to abortion. These restrictions can include waiting periods, mandatory counseling, and parental consent requirements.

Women said abortion and the cost of living are the main issues that will drive their voting choices at the ballot box in November, according to survey data published in November from All In Together, which focuses on women’s voting issues.

A survey by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics found that 18- to 29-year-olds were twice as likely to describe themselves as “pro-choice” than as “pro-life.” The poll found half of registered young voters say they will “definitely” vote next year if an abortion-related referendum is on their state ballot.

While nearly half of young voters say they’re considering not voting at all in the 2024 election, poll data suggests abortion will be a key motivating factor that will bring Gen Z to the polls.

What Biden says:

Biden has been in support of abortion rights and has recently renewed his campaign efforts to focus on reproductive rights as a way to pull in women and Gen Z voters. ]

Although Biden is focusing on abortion rights in his reelection campaign, including promises to sign any bill that codifies Roe’s abortion protections, abortion activists say his plan might not be enough.

First Lady Jill Biden has invited Kate Cox, the Texas woman who sought legal permission to end her nonviable pregnancy and later received an abortion out of state, to be her guest for the State of the Union Address.

“I believe Roe v. Wade was right. I’m not supporting — they didn’t support abortion on demand. “Roe v. Wade was the decision. And the majority of Americans agreed.”

What Trump says:

While the three of the Supreme Court justices who ended Roe v. Wade were hand-picked by Trump when he was in office, the former president last year he will make a “deal” on abortion that “the whole country” will support.

When Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2022, Trump called the historic reversal a “victory for life.”

“But on pro-life, I will tell you what I did on Roe v. Wade, nobody else, for 50 years they’ve been trying to do it. I got it done. And now we’re in a position to make a really great deal, and a deal that people want,” Trump told Fox News in May 2023.

Cost of living

For voters under 30, cost of living is their biggest concern going into the 2024 election, according to data from a December Emerson College poll. The cost of living was both young voters and Republican women’s top “deal breaker” issues, according to the All In Together poll published in November.

The president’s role in the economy can be difficult to understand, but there are some key areas where both Biden and Trump were winners and losers, according to a January analysis of the economy under every president from Lyndon B. Johnston to Biden.

Attitudes about the economy, inflation and the cost of living continue to be tenuous as Americans continue to complain about high prices despite data suggesting the economy is getting stronger. More than half (62%) of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, according to data released in November.

While inflation has slowed, prices are still higher than they were last year, and Americans are feeling it. Median home prices are still high at $382,600, which is lower than the all-time high of $413,800 reached in June 2022, Bankrate said Jan. 28.

Under Trump, the numbers were “better than average,” Yahoo finance reported. Inflation was just 1.4% during his presidency, which is the second lowest. The poverty rate of 11.9% during his years also ties him with Ford for the second lowest since Johnson’s presidency in the 60s. GDP growth was also fourth highest for Trump.

Trump’s presidency didn’t shine when it comes to unemployment, which was 6.5%, putting him fifth highest in that category.

The data on Biden’s presidency is technically incomplete, as his term still holds another year. However, there are some key data points that set his presidency apart.

The unemployment rate of 3.5% is the second-lowest of any president since Johnson. A GDP growth of 2.6% matches Trump, putting them both in second for the highest growth over their presidency, according to the Yahoo Finance analysis.

What Biden says:

Biden is optimistic about the economy, but some of the facts seem misleading. During Feb. 4 remarks at a campaign event in Henderson, Nevada, Biden said “inflation is now lower in America than any other major economy in the world.”

While inflation has come down from its June 2022 peak of 9.1%, prices remained up 3.2% in December 2023 compared to December 2022, inflation is not lower than any other major economy. Countries whose inflation rate was lower than America include Canada (3.1% as of November 2023), Japan (2.6% as of December 2023) and China (0.2% as of January).

What Trump says:

Trump has insisted that the economy would be in better shape if he were still president, and his campaign is still using data from Trump’s first term to prop up the proof for why Trump’s economic plan works better.

“Voters will not forget or forgive all the misery and despair Crooked Joe Biden has caused in just four years,” said Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung. “Americans know that they were better off with President Trump in the White House. After almost four years of Biden’s disastrous presidency, we need a return to America First policies that successfully kept our country safe and supercharged the economy for all Americans.”

In January, Trump said he hopes an economic crash, if it were to happen, would happen before he began serving a second term in January 2025, if he were elected president.

“I don’t want to be Herbert Hoover. The one president – I just don’t want to be Herbert Hoover,” Trump said in an interview that aired Jan. 8 on the right-wing platform Lindell TV. The Hoover comparison was referring to the 1929 stock market crash, which happened less than a year into Hoover’s presidency and signaled the beginning of The Great Depression.

Guns

The gun crisis in the US is a multifaceted public health emergency marked by staggering statistics: record highs in gun deaths, stark racial disparities, and a chilling frequency of mass shootings. This complex issue is fueled by factors like easy access to firearms, mental health challenges, and a deeply polarized national discourse.

In 2021, there were a record-high number of gun deaths totaling 48,830, which reflect a 23% increase since 2019, before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from Pew Research Center.

The All In Together data found 88% of Democratic women said they would support policies that would prevent people younger than 21 from buying a gun. Around the same percentage (86%) of Democratic women said they would support policies that would make it easier for law enforcement to take guns from individuals deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Young voters have the opportunity to create a “sea change” on the issue of gun violence, Vice President Kamala Harris told U.S. mayors during the January U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in D.C.

What Biden says:

Although he hasn’t explicitly said he would ban firearms or, the Biden Administration has taken an aim at restricting access to guns including the Safer Communities Act, which the Center for American Progress said last year has saved lives.

In January, Biden announced a new initiative to help more Americans, especially Americans who have young children, better understand safe storage of firearms. The initiative involves sending specific messaging to schools to distribute to parents about safe firearm storage. The statement noted some firearm statistics including Secret Service data showing 76% of school shootings are done with guns the student took from home and 80% of firearm suicides by children are done with a family member’s gun.

“Look, folks, there comes a point where our voices are so loud and our determination so clear that our effort can no longer be stopped. We’re reaching that point — we’ve reached that point today, in my view, where the safety of our kids from gun violence is on the ballot,” Biden said during Sept. 22 remarks on gun safety.

What Trump says:

Trump historically has been in favor of keeping guns accessible in the name of supporting the Second Amendment and has said he would not enact new gun restrictions if reelected.

During Trump’s first year as president, he changed the definition of a “fugitive from justice,” which made significant changes to how the FBI does background checks for people buying guns. The change made buying a gun more accessible for more individuals with outstanding arrest warrants, including for dangerous offenses, according to Democracy Forward, a legal organization focused on gun safety law.

Democracy Forward called the change “dangerous” and “unlawful.” The organization said the change deviates from long-standing FBI practice.

“This is not a gun problem,” Trump said about gun violence in America during an April speech at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting. “This is a mental health problem, this is a social problem, this is a cultural problem, this is a spiritual problem.”

Healthcare

Healthcare was another important issue for women voters, who are facing shrinking access to reproductive healthcare and are at least twice as likely to die from complications of childbirth now than they were 20 years ago.

Maternal mortality rate increased among all demographic groups from 1999 to 2019, according to a 2023 report by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Maternal death rates have at least doubled among all people, ages 10-54, who gave birth in that 20-year period. American Indian, Alaska Native, and Black individuals were among groups disproportionately affected.

Women want political leaders will address the preventable death rate of 80% as a serious issue facing American women, according to the polls. Nearly half of women of color (44%) and one-third (33%) of white women said healthcare was their “deal breaker” issue.

What Biden says:

In January, Biden issued a statement to mark 40 million Americans registered for healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

“We must build upon this progress and make these lower health care premiums permanent. But extreme Republicans have blocked these efforts at every turn,” Biden said, referring to his campaign’s effort to build on the Obama-era government healthcare plan.

The administration is also presenting a number of healthcare measures that it says will help more Americans get affordable care. These provisions, which are basically just expansions of ACA or an extension of soon-to-expire funding for programs, which include those that cut prices for insulin and other drugs. Medicare enrollees gained access to these price cuts and boosted benefits last year as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

What Trump says:

In November, Trump said “Obamacare sucks,” doubling-down on his stance against the government health plan. Trump said he would again attempt to replace it with some other plan. Trump-led Republicans tried and failed to eliminate the law in 2017.

In December, Trump again vowed to replace the ACA with “something better” in a post on Truth Social. Details of his “better” plan were not revealed.

“I will come up with a much better, and less expensive, alternative! People will be happy, not sad!” he said in a post on Truth Social, but he shared no details of his “alternative.” He has repeatedly promised an alternative to Obamacare, but has yet to deliver on that promise on making people “happy” via his own government health plan.

Gaza

The Israel-Hamas war is also important to Gen Z voters, who on average tend to oppose the war and say Israel has gone “too far” in its retaliation against Hamas for Oct. 7, which killed 1,200 people. More than 27,000 people have died in Gaza since Israel launched its attack on Palestine, according to data from the United Nations released at the end of January. The UN estimates 16,000 of those dead are women and children, with two mothers dying every hour since Oct. 7.

The International Court of Justice in January ordered Israel to take all possible measures to prevent genocidal acts as part of the court’s interim ruling on South Africa’s case that argues the nation is violating the Geneva Convention. ICJ officials said it was “plausible” Israel was committing genocide, which is a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Millions of people across the US and the world have held demonstrations in support of Palestine. There have been more than 7,000 pro-Palestine protests across the world since the conflict began, according to Armed Conflict Location and Events, which has been tracking the protests.

More recently, half of U.S. adults say Israel’s 15-week-old military campaign in Gaza has “gone too far,” a finding driven mainly by growing disapproval among Republicans and political independents, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released Feb. 2.

Broadly, the poll shows support for Israel and the Biden administration’s handling of the situation ebbing slightly further across the board. The poll shows 31% of U.S. adults approve of Biden’s handling of the conflict, including just 46% of Democrats, AP reported last week. The New York Times–Siena College poll data found Republicans are far more likely to approve of Biden’s handling of the war compared to Democrats.

Last fall, TikTok came under fire for allegedly trying to sway American opinion after the app showed a high spike in pro-Palestine content following the weeks after Oct. 7. The company proved that to be untrue in November, citing a Gallup poll pre-existing trends suggesting younger people hold more favorable views towards Palestine compared to older generations, potentially influencing their content preferences on the platform.

What Biden says:

The Biden administration has repeatedly bypassed Congress to approve funding and resources for Israel totalling more than $100 billion in funds and military aid. He has refused to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, but after mounting pressure from voters, resignations within his own administration over his approach to the war, has begun to unravel relationships with other countries. The International Court of Justice said on Jan. 26 that it was “plausible” that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza, but declined to say for certainty if the nation was guilty.

Young voters and Democrats are turning against Biden because of his handling of the war and his staunch support for Israel, according to data from a New York Times–Siena College poll published in December.

Biden’s stance on Israel has become more critical as the death toll has continued to rise and Americans become frustrated with his response to its continued bombings in Gaza.

“Such actions constitute a serious threat to the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, and the broader Middle East region and undermine the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States. I find that these actions constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I have declared a national emergency to deal with that threat,” Biden said in a statement announcing the national emergency Feb. 1.

What Trump says:

Trump has presented conflicting comments on how he would handle the situation. He’s been a supporter of Israel and has made it part of his campaign in years past. Trump has joined in with other Republicans who have criticized Biden’s dealings on hostages, which include Israelis, Americans and other foreign nationals, taken by Hamas.

He has also suggested the fighting will just have to “play out” and that deaths were unavoidable because of long-term animosity between the two groups.

“There is no hatred like the Palestinian hatred of Israel and Jewish people. And probably the other way around also, I don’t know. You know, it’s not as obvious, but probably that’s it too. So sometimes you have to let things play out and you have to see where it ends,” Trump told Univision in an exclusive interview aired Nov. 9, calling what was taking place in Gaza “unbelievable.”

What’s next

Forty-one million Gen Z adults will be eligible to vote in November. There are an additional 8 million Gen Z adults joining the voting population, according to data from CIRCLE.

“These young people have tremendous potential to influence elections and to spur action on issues they care about—if they are adequately reached and supported by parties, campaigns, and organizations,” CIRCLE said in a report on Gen Z voters in 2024.

A majority of women have preferred the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since 1996. In the first matchup between Trump and Biden in 2020, the then-Democratic nominee won the women’s vote by 12%, according to exit polling by the Associated Press VoteCast.



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