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Gen Z is Reshaping Politics

Generation Z voters, Americans born between the late 1990s and the early 2010s, are starting to make their way into the political process. Though previously known for their absence at the voting booth, Gen Z Americans are beginning to speak up, and in big ways. Gen Z voters are on average further to the left than any other generation of Americans, and they are passionate about issues like climate change, abortion access, gun control and LGBTQ+ rights. The rising strength of Gen Z is only going to continue its upward trajectory, with an estimated 7 to 9 million more Gen Z voters expected to show up at the ballot in 2024 compared to 2020. Gen Z isn’t just voting: they’re running too. From grassroots political movements to campaigns, Gen Z is making their mark on the face of American politics. The first Gen Z member of congress, Maxwell Frost, entered office in 2023, with more expected in the next upcoming election cycles. Unsatisfied by the “old-igarchy” of the US, with the average Senator age in the Senate at 63.9 years old and 57.5 years in the House at the beginning of 2023, Gen Z activists are working to get fresh blood into the American political process. New youth-led PACs, including one started by Parkland Shooting survivor David Hogg, are taking their first steps in shaping American politics. Further, a third of Americans, aged 18-29, have signed a petition or joined a boycott, 1 in 7 have participated in a march or demonstration, and 28% saying they plan to protest or would do so or would if presented with the opportunity. In Georgia, Gen Z has its first announced house candidate in Madeline Ryan Smith running for HD158, with many more sure to follow. These signs point towards an imminent surge of Gen Z voting power, which will have a massive impact in the election cycles in the 2020s and beyond.

Continuing the trend started by Millennials, Gen Z is set to break multiple generational records. The voting block is expected to be the most diverse, both in terms of ethnicity and sexual and gender orientation. Gen Z voters are also the least religious generation thus far, with 48% identifying with “No Religious Affiliation” in a 2022 survey. Their issues of choice also differ from older voters, as well as their opinion on these issues. Gen Z voters, even Republican ones, agree that climate change is an existential threat. Gen Z also largely supports abortion access, common sense gun control legislation, LGBTQ+ rights, marijuana legalization, and a host of other issues viewed skeptically by older Americans, especially Republicans. Republicans are scared of Gen Z. How do we know? Major mainstream Republicans, all the way up to 2024 Presidential Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, have suggested raising the voting age up to 25 in order to remove a large portion of Gen Z from the voter pool. With the numbers of Gen Z voters projected to only increase, winning Gen Z will mean winning Georgia. With Gen Z becoming a force to be reckoned with, Democrats need to work hard to earn the votes of young Americans. Rather than run towards the political center in an oft-failed attempt to court right-leaning Independents and moderate Republicans, Georgia Democrats should be standing strong on progressive policies that the upcoming generation of voters overwhelmingly support. While young Americans in red states still lean towards the Republican party, blue states and swing states (like Georgia) saw Gen Z solidly support Democrats in 2018, 2020 and 2022. This momentum must be built on through incorporating the Gen Z voting block into the Democratic party, and making their priorities ours. With strong Democratic candidates that show Gen Z voters a path towards a brighter future, Georgia can only shift further left as we make our way towards 2030.

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