Photo: Harvard Kennedy School/St. Martins Press

In a decidedly different edition of our show we get to take a look at the state of our politics from the other dugout – from the pollster who took a leave of absence from Harvard to join the 2020 campaign of Joe Biden. John Della Volpe is the author of a new book entitled Fight: How Gen Z is Channeling Their Fear and Passion to Save America.

As Joe Biden’s approval numbers tumble, Della Volpe looks back to what made the campaign successful in the first place. (According to the latest Pew Research poll*, the President is currently underwater with the 18-29 age group with 35% approve-63% disapprove.)

Della Volpe is the Director of Polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics. The Washington Post referred to John as one of the world’s leading authorities on global sentiment, opinion and influence among young Americans in the age of digital and social media.

*Conducted Jan. 10 to Jan. 17, 2022  

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Published in: Elections, Politics

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  1. Icarus213 Coolidge

    This is a good topic to discuss, but I think John’s insights on it are pretty vapid.  Why did Biden do well with Gen Z?  “Because he went out there and really listened to them.  He listened to their concerns!”  That’s a useless answer a campaign consultant would give.  Gen Z voted for Biden because they don’t like Trump, and they don’t like Trump because the fears and concerns of Trump supporters aren’t the fears and concerns of young people, by and large.  It’s part of the broader reason why older people will almost always be more conservative than younger people.  That has nothing to do with Biden or how he campaigned.


    David rightly asks the obvious question: will Gen Z get more conservative as they get older?  The obvious answer is yes, and the follow up question is “how much and in what directions (socially, fiscally, etc)?”  The answer is obviously yes, because *every single generation* has gotten more conservative as it got older, even the Boomers.  John’s answer is to cite polls of Millennials, who are now just turning 40, and say that they don’t appear to be getting more conservative.  That’s a dubious answer; is his theory that Millennials and Gen Z will be the first two generations in American history to not get more conservative as they age?  That would be unusual indeed.


    But the main reason a lot of discussion on this topic is sort of useless, is because the specific issues that divide Left from Right change over time.  What it meant to be left-wing or right-wing in 1960 is different than in 1990, and yet again in 2020, particularly on social and cultural issues.  Gen Z conservatives will be perfectly fine with a lot of social and cultural things that Boomer conservatives never were, and that’s fine.  And the GOP of 2030 will look different than the GOP of 2020.  




    • #1
  2. EJHill Podcaster

    Gen Z voted for Biden because they believed he would cancel their student loans. He has not and that’s why he’s underwater with them now.

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  3. Boney Cole Member
    Boney Cole

    The most frightening thing revealed in this interview is that this guy makes tons of money advising the military on recruitment.   Is there a similar conservative leaning business contributing advice to the military?  Probably not.  No wonder our military is going to hell.  The purpose of the military is to create an effective fighting force, not to cater to the whims of teenagers.   Harvard is a leading institution in the mushification of young American minds.  This guy revels in polling these mushified minds, to see how well the mushification process is going.  He reports back , “Very well indeed”. 

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  4. OwnedByDogs Lincoln

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Gen Z voted for Biden because they believed he would cancel their student loans. He has not and that’s why he’s underwater with them now.

    Democrats keep bringing this up and it gets nowhere. I believe it is because there are a lot more people who have paid off their loans or their children’s loans, than there are people with loans outstanding. My husband and I paid for our own education and the greater part of our children’s education. I’m damned if I’m going to pay for someone’s gender studies loan with my taxes.

    • #4
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