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Tutterrow: Welcome to an election year with Gen Z

Jon Tyson // Unsplah
Generation Z is the largest generation in American history and looking towards the 2024 election just under half of Gen Z will be eligible to vote.

As we begin a new year, people have taken it upon themselves to claim 2024 to be the “year of” many different attributes. Though some may come to fruition and others may fail to reach expectations, one truth withstands: that 2024 is an election year for the books.

Many factors contribute to the high stakes and tension surrounding this upcoming election, and many of them are the same topics that seem to resurface every four years. This year, however, is an election year to look out for. The amount of voters in Generation Z is increasing, which can mean a lot for the way that we view political issues.

More than eight million members of Gen Z will be eligible to vote in this upcoming election who were not previously of voting age during midterm elections in 2022, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

Though this comes as no surprise as people reach voting age every day, something about this situation is different from what we have seen in the past. This new generation, of which most college students are included, is among the most diverse and politically active, which can produce a large impact on elections.

“57% of youth, ages 18-34, say they’re ‘extremely likely’ to vote in 2024, and another 15% say they’re ‘fairly likely’ to cast a ballot in the election,” according to CIRCLE.

Voters in Gen Z are voting at higher rates than other generations did while in their youth. Given that 40.8 million members of Gen Z will be eligible to vote in 2024 and have proven their eagerness to do so, it is becoming evident that change is coming.

Young Americans are seeing politics and government in a completely different way than previous generations and are placing significance on issues older generations have brushed to the side.

When asked which issues were most significant to them, 53% of young Americans chose the cost of living/inflation along with jobs that pay a living wage (28%), addressing climate change (26%) and gun violence prevention (26%), according to CIRCLE.

Along with this, 55% of the younger generation believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction, according to CIRCLE.

This can likely be attributed to a clear generational gap occurring in modern politics, causing a rift in satisfaction levels across the board. Within the “anti-abortion” Republican Party, 47% of Republicans 18 to 44 versus 38% of those over 45 believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to Pew Research.

Similarly, 71% of millennials and 67% of Gen Z agreed that policy on climate change should be a top priority, according to a Pew survey. However, many Republican candidates in a recent GOP debate still brushed off climate change as a serious issue.

This separation within party lines is not only within the Republican Party. Five percent fewer young people call themselves Democrats today as they did in 2020, according to The Harvard Gazette’s recent IOP Poll. This change exemplifies the loss of an appeal to a younger generation in both parties, which has consequently led to a shift of 38% of young people identifying as Independents or having no party affiliation, according to the same poll.

Though it’s tough to predict exactly what this influx of Gen Z voters will bring this coming November, the fact is that this new generation of voters will bring a change in politics as the generational gap begins to widen within the political sphere.

Kylie Tutterrow is a sophomore political science major from Spartanburg, South Carolina. You can reach her at [email protected]

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Kylie Tutterrow
Kylie Tutterrow, Opinion Editor
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    Josiah SullivanJan 13, 2024 at 12:12 pm

    This article is incredibly fascinating and the conclusion is well established! Nice job!