Can Gen Z Vote

Brent Mccoy
• Monday, 23 November, 2020
• 7 min read

“ Gene voters were very enthusiastic about this election,” says Karyn Bowman, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “I think that this election was a referendum on the last four years,” says Nickel Bennett, a 19-year-old sophomore studying political communications at the University of Texas at Austin.

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It was the protests that we saw this spring and summer which really turned huge numbers of young people into political activism for the first time,” lists Rosenberg. “And it was the gun violence movement that came out of Parkland that I think also brought a lot of young people .

The Black Lives Matter movement has been credited for inspiring vast numbers of young Democratic voters to register. In early June, millions of protesters took to the streets to speak out against the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“Upwards of three-quarters of young people, regardless of party affiliation, supported Black Lives Matter protests. Bill McClain, research director for Clean and Prosperous America has spent significant time analyzing the political attitudes of Gene voters.

He says the issues most important to these young voters are “defeating the coronavirus, jobs and the economy and climate change.” “What's interesting to me in reviewing all of our research and listening to younger voters is that they recognize the intersectionality of all of these issues,” says McClain.

But much greater percentages of young Black and Latino voters, who make up larger shares of America's youngest generations than ever before, voted for Biden. “The demographic makeup of the electorate is changing, and you see that most notably among the young, who are much more racially and ethnically diverse,” says Bowman.

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“Black Lives Matter, police reform, that stuff right now is at the forefront of my mind,” says Jada Martin, a 21-year-old student at Strasbourg University, originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “From racial justice to health care to the state of our planet, there's a lot at stake right now and climate change really incorporates it all into one single issue that we really have a timestamp to tackle within the next 10 years,” says John Paul Mejia, an 18-year organizer with Sunrise Movement from Miami, Florida.

“And knowing that we can 't face four more years of a Trump presidency is what really galvanized me to not only bring myself out to vote, but my communities as well.” John Paul Mejia, an 18-year organizer with Sunrise Movement from Miami, Florida and a first-time voter.

Unsurprisingly, young voters on the left and right say that the communities they were raised in have significantly impacted their political opinions. “The issues that my age group and I most care about are issues that include immigration, reproductive rights, climate change, health care unemployment among so many others,” says Adela Aguirre, a 20-year-old college student from Boulder, Colorado.

While Walden says she stands by most of Trump's views, particularly on taxes and abortion issues, she says wishes he had handled the pandemic differently. While young people have long had a reputation for leaning left, Rosenberg says GenZ's political preference is not a passing phase.

They have a lot of attractive candidates who may run in 2024,” says Bowman, also noting that Republicans have an opportunity to appeal to young Hispanic voters given Trump's success in Florida. James Williams, an 18-year-old senior at Durant High School and a member of the YMCA's Youth & Government Program from Plant City, Florida, chose to volunteer as a poll worker during his first election as an eligible voter.

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“I signed up to be a poll worker because I think it's extremely important that as a youth, we not only have a say in our democracy, but we aid it,” says Williams. “Throughout all of American history, from the civil rights to anti-Vietnam War protests, we've seen that young people have led the charge on every key social movement that has garnished and cemented institutional change in American society.

This could be significant, since many attribute socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders’s sway with young voters to their indoctrination at American universities. If Gen Zero are choosing to skip college or defer until they are older and presumably wiser, the leftist elites might not have as much influence as they did on millennials.

This hasn’t seemed to scare leftists, who have always been confident Gene holds socially liberal ideals and will be reliable Democrat voters, like millennials. However, a new Pew Research poll shows that voting-age Boomers tend to be as leftist on social issues, sometimes even slightly less, than millennials.

However, from millennials to Boomers, slightly fewer Gen Zero believe that climate change is due to human activity. There were similar results for gay marriage certificates, with only one percentage point more of Gen Zero approving than millennials.

Boomer’s fiscal conservatism and entrepreneurial spirit, added to the fact that many of them have conservative parents, makes Gene a hopeful future voting block for Republicans. But, speaking of parents, it would be wrong to ignore what I call GenZ’s “other mother.” A Business Insider’s poll found that a horrifying 59 percent of Boomers listed social media as their top news source.

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Big tech has proven to be slanted toward the left, especially in this past election cycle, with the emergence of “independent fact-checkers.” Everything from the Hunter Biden scandal to our every own The Federalist has been censored and suppressed. The approved editorials, only from left-wing outlets, give short and simple news rundowns that provide users a biased and selective take on current events.

Republicans need to resolve the Big Tech censorship issue with competition and regulatory or legislative reform before Generation Z is lost to their second mother, Silicon Valley oligarchs. Gen Zero are not millennials, and the data shows there is hope for them, but only if action is taken now to ensure free speech and a marketplace of ideas in our digital public square.

Evita Duffy is an intern at The Federalist and a junior at the University of Chicago, where she studies American History. If the election were held today, only a quarter of Gen Zero would vote for Trump (half would go to Joe Biden), compared with 42 percent of registered voters.

While they make up one-tenth of the electorate this year, separate Morning Consult intelligence finds that they’re only 4 percent of likely voters. Gen Zero were also much less likely than registered voters to deny they didn’t like either of the two presidential candidates to vote.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS “Both candidates are extremely terrible ... Joe Biden must be more left in order for me to vote for him. First-time voters already face significant barriers to understanding and participating in the electoral process.

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Just over a third of Gene poll respondents feel very confident about their ability to vote by mail. The percentage of Gen Zero who were very confident they could vote in person was 27 points lower than registered voters who said the same.

Young people are less likely than registered voters to consider voting impactful, or the end-all and be-all of civic participation. And despite gaps on the impact of voting, Gen Zero are still almost as likely to believe they can affect politics and public affairs.

But Facebook still ranks highly as a source of news for Gene respondents despite its falling popularity among the age group. TV, which is by far the most popular news source for registered voters, barely made the top 5 for Gene.

Still, the way Gene interacts with the information space is vastly different from the “fake news” stories their parents were dealing with in 2016. “I think that young people are infinitely better at navigating social media and sniffing out misinformation than older generations are since it’s the ecosystem we were essentially born into.

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