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Tamara Keith and Amy Walter on Gen Z turnout, mail-in voting

NPR’s Tamara Keith and Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report join Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest political news, including whether younger voters will turn out this fall to support presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, President Trump’s unfounded claims of fraud with mail-in voting and what to watch in a key primary race in Kentucky this week.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Let's pick up on this and more with our Monday regulars.

    That's Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and host of public radio's "Politics With Amy Walter" and Tamara Keith of NPR. She also co-hosts the "NPR Politics Podcast."

    Hello to both of you.

    So, Tam, let's start with you.

    Is there evidence that young people are going to turn out and vote this November?

  • Tamara Keith:

    There certainly was evidence in 2018. And, of course, midterms are not good indicators for presidential elections — election years. It is not an apples-to-apples comparison. But young voters did turn out in 2018.

    And there is some indication that that energy in the streets can translate to a wave of voting.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Amy, young voters turned out for Barack Obama, President Obama, when he first ran in 2008. Anything like that level of enthusiasm this year?

  • Amy Walter:

    It's not likely, Judy.

    And, you know, there was a lot of talk in 2016 about the drop-off in younger voters' enthusiasm for, say, Hillary Clinton. The difference this year, Judy, is that while Joe Biden, at least in the polls right now, not doing any worse than Hillary Clinton did among younger voters, he is doing a lot better among older voters.

    And older voters, as we know, are more consistent voters. People over 45 years of age, about 60 — make up about 60 percent of the electorate.

    And, especially, we're talking about battleground states like Pennsylvania, Florida, older voters are going to be a really, really important constituency.

    So, while we may see more younger voters out and protesting, taking their issues to TikTok, all that is very important. When it comes right down to it, Joe Biden's success is probably going to be determined more by how well he does with older voters than how many more younger voters he gets to the polls.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, while we're talking about voting — and we just saw Miles O'Brien's report, Tam, on problems in Georgia, problems with access to voting — President Trump is again today calling out what he says are problems with mail-in voting.

    He talked about the election being rigged, foreign countries get involved — getting involved. How much do we know about real problems in the past with mail-in voting?

  • Tamara Keith:

    Let's just be clear that we have no idea what President Trump was alleging. There is no clarity on what he is saying about foreign involvement in mail-in voting.

    And the reality is that mail-in voting is fairly secure. There haven't been — you know, there was an issue with ballot harvesting in a campaign in North Carolina. And the Republican political consultant has been prosecuted in that case.

    The president is doing what he has been doing. He did it before the vote in 2016. He did it after the vote in 2016, when he claimed there were millions of illegal votes, yet never was able to provide evidence of that.

    And that term rigged, it is a term that he has used repeatedly. It's a term that he wants to in the bloodstream. And it's something that he is likely to continue to come back to in these all-caps tweets.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Amy, we have heard it from the president before, and, as Tam is saying, we are likely to keep on hearing it.

  • Amy Walter:


    I mean, it's hard to say that this is anything other than the president really trying to put doubt, sow doubt in the minds of voters about the election and this process.

    Look, there are only five states right now that do all mail voting — so — mail ballot voting. So, we don't know what this would look like if it were implemented nationwide.

    What we do know, and the report from Miles indicated, it is going to take these states a while to kind of catch up with where voters are in terms of their interest in voting by mail. They do not have the infrastructure to deal with this. And so we're going to have to wait in many cases for days to get results.

    There are going to be a lot of stories about people who didn't get their ballots, about overwhelmed postal workers or other folks involved in this process.

    So it's going to be messy. And what you need at this moment in time, of course, is for leaders to stand up and say, voting is very important. Let's make sure that we do everything possible to make it work smoothly.

    That's not…


  • Tamara Keith:

    And let's just be clear that it is normal with mail-in voting for it to take longer to get results. There isn't — there often isn't that instantaneous result.

    Like, if you look at California with the congressional elections in 2018, it took a couple of weeks to find out that some of those candidates had actually — some of those Democratic candidates had actually won, simply because the ballot processing, the provisional ballots, all these things just take longer.

    And it's normal.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Good reminder.

    Amy, just very quickly here at the end, tomorrow, two states hold presidential primaries. We mentioned it a moment ago, New York and Kentucky. What are you looking for?

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, to start where we ended, what we're — the irony is, we may not know who's going to win this election by Wednesday.

    The county clerks there saying, because of these absentee ballots, so many people interested in these elections, they're probably not going to have results by Wednesday. The marquee race in Kentucky, Democratic primary there that, until a few weeks ago, didn't look very competitive, has now gotten extremely competitive.

    The Democratic candidate who was recruited into this race, Amy McGrath, has raised $40 million, really because she's running against the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, a lot of Democrats around the country hoping to defeat Senator McConnell.

    But she now has a very serious primary challenge from her left from an African-American candidate who has been running a very strong campaign. The issues of protesting, especially in this moment in time in the state, have become sort of a central question.

    And she did not go out and protest. He did. We're going to see whether or not that is going to be a factor. But that's the race that we're all watching.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Unfair of me to ask you about, about 20 different congressional races in — with 30 seconds to go.


  • Judy Woodruff:

    But we can always try.

    Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thank you both, Politics Monday.

  • Tamara Keith:

    You're welcome.

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