Do College Towns Always Favor Democrats or Could it Change in 2024?



The article suggests that Democratic candidate Joe Biden may face significant challenges in generating enthusiasm among young voters in the upcoming presidential election, particularly in traditionally Democrat-leaning Wisconsin. Biden’s handling of the Israel-Gaza war and other issues has led to a protest vote in the form of “uninstructed” votes, where voters choose not to vote for any candidate. The article also discusses former President Trump’s stance on abortion, suggesting that while he’s sent mixed messages in the past, he could potentially use the power of the Comstock Act to limit abortion access nationwide.

Aspiring Presidents Should Win Wisconsin, Specially Democrats

For anyone with presidential ambition, winning Wisconsin could be a significant stepping stone, particularly for Democrats. This could be achieved by gaining massive support in Dane County, the state’s fast-growing and deeply progressive region that houses Madison and the University of Wisconsin.

Biden’s Re-election Strategy

President Biden’s recent visit to a technical college in Madison, where he announced a student loan repayment plan, seemed like an effort to stir enthusiasm for his re-election bid. This college town has been historically favorable for Democrats, and its support was crucial to Biden’s Wisconsin win in 2020.

Enthusiasm Gap Among Young Voters

However, signs of an enthusiasm gap among young voters and widespread anger on college campuses over the Biden administration’s handling of Israel-Gaza conflict are creating a complex battleground for Democrats. This has led to increasing unease among student groups, as expressed by Megan Eisenstein from the College Democrats group at Lawrence University.

Uninstructed Vote Phenomenon

In the recent Wisconsin primaries, almost 8.3% of the Democratic voters cast “uninstructed” votes, seemingly to protest the Biden administration’s stance on Israel’s war in Gaza. This is perceived as a sign of voters’ discontent with Biden’s policies, particularly since he won the state by a narrow margin in 2020.

Increasing Dissatisfaction Among Young Voters

According to a Daily Cardinal analysis, almost a third of Democratic voters near the university’s campus voted “uninstructed”, reflecting deep betrayal and anger. Francesca Hong, a State Representative and Democrat, believes that there is a risk of Biden underperforming in the November elections due to this dissatisfaction.

Activation of the Youth Vote

Despite the concerns, Ben Wikler, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, believes that every vote, especially in college towns, can tilt the state and the entire presidential race. He is confident that the youth will channel their energy into ensuring a Democratic victory once again.

Pragmatic View of Enthusiasm Gap

Regardless of the lack of enthusiasm among young voters, the Biden campaign is addressing their concerns via a national organizing program that aims to make over 155 million “direct voter contacts”. Despite the dissatisfaction, young voters are still turning up at the polls, which gives hope for a more enthusiastic participation in the upcoming elections.

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