Gen Z voters to bring new perspective to upcoming election



People wait in a long line to cast ballots for the general election at an early voting location at the Renaissance Austin Hotel on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Austin, Texas. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Generation Z voters will be a significant demographic in the upcoming election. 

“There’s about 24 million Gen Z members who are eligible to vote so that’s about 10 percent of the electorate,” associate professor of political science Molly Andolina said. “They tend to be aligned also with millennials so if you throw them in with millennials, they’re over a third of the electorate.”

Gen Z members are typically born after 1997. They are so far the most culturally diverse, comfortable with gender neutral language, and most similar to millennials in social views, according to associate professor of political science Molly Andolina. 

“They’re progressive, pro government, they want the government to solve problems. They see immigration as a strength of this country,” Andolina said. “They’re, they’re less likely to support an American first agenda, pro same sex marriage.”

Gen Z will have a higher turnout rate for this election compared to other generations. About 60 percent of Gen Z reports they’re voting for democratic candidate Joe Biden, according to Andolina.

“Gen Z is going to be motivated in many of the ways that other people have been motivated in the past. An election that really seems to matter is more likely to get everybody to vote, and this is no different for Gen Z in this election,” Andolina said. “Gen Z has a huge percentage of them who have said that this election made them realize that politics mattered.”

Art, design and media major Natalie Lara compares Gen Z to the Baby Boomer generation on being passionate about politics.

I think that Gen Z takes politics much more personally, and I think that is for the better. We need to be able to have an open dialogue, not be passive and face the issues in this country head on,” Lara said. 

Gen Z makes an impression to be socially, economically, and politically liberal but is still diverse in its views. 

“I feel like it’s equal because even though I live in a very liberal city, there are still people who are conservative that we don’t acknowledge,” political science major Vanesa Leon said. “We can have different ideologies as long as there are conversations between us. However, we do become more socially liberal because of all the changes we will see.”

Social media highly impacted Gen Z becoming civically engaged. Social media platforms have added information on voter registration deadlines, where to vote and checking registration status. 

“95 percent of young people have access to a smartphone and 97 percent of them say they’re on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat. This is definitely like a fully wired generation. So there’s a lot of effort to reach out and try to register Gen Z to vote,” Andolina said. 

Gen Z reflects on the significance of being civically engaged. This can include voting, protesting, or being aware of political issues. 

“We are the ones that are going to be running for office in years’ time, we have a new perspective on things that just aren’t the same as people who have been alive for as long. we are innovating the political space,” Lara said.

“I think young people should vote because we are a large group compared to the older generation and we should have more of a say in what happens in our government because soon we will be running it as we get older,” Leon added. 

Gen Z can still become more engaged through raising community involvement in their communities and neighborhoods.

As we normalize being more engaged in politics or neighborhood decision making a push for more involvement in our communities you will realize how important it is to be involved in government in policy making,” Leon said. 

Andolina describes how Gen Z will create a new future for the U.S because Gen Z thinks differently than older generations.

“The older generations have made such a mess of American politics and government. We’ve gotten involved in never ending wars, run up a deficit, destroyed the climate, created divisions in society,” Andolina said. 

“Frankly as a generation offers real hope because you’re willing to think about a different kind of future for us. You first have to start to wrestle the power away from the people who are making the rules and the, you know, the bottom line is even things like who can vote. It’s only by getting involved can you take back the power,” she added.