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Gen Z: The Youth Vote and The 2020 Election

Updated: Apr 1

XYZ University defines Gen Z as those who were born between 1996 and 2009, now making up almost 30% of the world’s population. Since the oldest members of Generation Z are just starting to become adults, their impact on the political world is only just beginning. 

Gen Zers have grown up with massive interconnectivity to peers and strangers alike through access to social media, global news, and research, resulting in a high awareness of what is occurring around the world. 

This has been proven to especially impact the world of modern politics. With this interconnectedness, information spreads quickly – and we are very aware of the many impacts the last four years especially, have had on our country. 

XYZ University’s research has found that during the past decade, younger generations have grown increasingly concerned about environmental disasters, social equity, financial security, increasing college tuition, and the inaction of older generations to address these pressing issues. Leading youth to tend to be better informed, and politically conscious. 

Seeing firsthand the legislative inactivity on climate change, the struggle with poverty; especially during a global pandemic, and the racial injustices that have occurred, they are fearful of the future, and growing more frustrated by the minute.

Since these values and concerns most align with the United State’s democratic party, it’s easy to see why the senate and presidency turned blue. 

The rise in youth concern created many advocacy efforts with a massive social media presence for getting out the young vote. In past years, US youth turnout for elections has not been a match for older generations. However, this turned on its head in 2020. 

The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University, a private research university, found that youth voter turnout (ages 18 to 29) surged by around 8 percent this year compared to 2016, from 45 percent in 2016 to 53 in 2020. 

Gen Z’s voting patterns reported by NBC exit polls for the 2020 presidential election found that 65% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 voted for Biden- 11% more than any other age group. 

This information combined together can cement the theory that Gen Z’s votes skew to the left. This is further supported when looking at Georgia’s runoff senate election statistics. 

With this, according to an article by the Washington Post, this year’s Georgia runoff elections showed a major raise in youth voter turnout. It was found that as of December 30th, 2020 more than 281,000 voters under 30 had already cast their ballots in the runoffs. This was reportedly an unusual level of enthusiasm for an age group that typically has low rates of voting — particularly in runoff elections, which historically draw much less attention than presidential races.

Therefore, while it was theorized that emphasis for voter turnout among youth would end with the 2020 presidential election, Gen Z proved that their enthusiasm for invoking change, unlike other matters, was not a trend. 

Gen Z proved that when we put our minds to something and put effort into raising awareness, we can hold our focus long enough that we move past a hashtag and towards real change. 

And that’s one of Gen Z’s weaknesses. We are incredibly attuned to the issues and happenings from around the globe but are often focused solely on what is trending and are inspired for that small moment and then move on to the next big thing. An easy way to explain this is kind of like ADD, where we are exposed to so many issues that it becomes so difficult to spend so much emotional and physical energy on each of them. 

As of right now, Gen Z has been able to invoke proper social change, at least among our generation but has not yet reached the policy change level. However, the next two years will prove to be interesting, as there is now a democratic majority in the house, senate, and presidency. 

With this in mind, it’ll also be fascinating to see how Gen Z will hold the officials they worked hard to elect accountable for making legislative change. 

Looking to the future, it will also be interesting to see what happens when Gen Z becomes elected officials, or even old enough to lobby, and how all of that will influence policy changes.  

I predict that as Gen Z continues to age, there will be a rise in lobbying and advocacy for injustice due to Gen Z’s understanding and empathy for the world.

How can your organization benefit from learning how Gen Z works and the values they uphold? By bringing your attention to bettering the world through social or political change, you will

1. Gain relatability for sharing our interests and using your resources to put good back into the world. 

2. You will attract youth who are interested in working for you, but are also willing to volunteer for your cause. 

In other words, by paying attention to issues locally and globally and instituting an excellent advocacy program, you are bound to attract younger employees to your firm. In turn, creating a strong base for both modernization and diversity. 

Please continue to tune in to my advocacy series- next week I will be covering trends and how your organization can both follow and get involved!

Anna Sladek


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