Gen Z took the Nov. 8 midterm elections by storm. Our voter engagement unexpectedly turbocharged Democratic wins nationwide as we showed up for the issues and politicians that spoke to our hearts.
A notably Democratic-leaning generation, Gen Z — those currently aged 18-26 — was imperative to increasing midterm voter turnout. Societal, economic and civil issues, including high inflation, abortion rights, crime and gun policies mattered to these voters. The Guardian’s exit polls revealed that one in eight midterm voters were under 30, and 61% of voters between the ages of 18 and 34 supported the Democratic Party. This turnout effectively washed away the Republicans’ red wave — a term referring to the projected wins of the Republican Party.
Since the last midterm elections in 2018, the reversal of Roe v. Wade, mass shootings, and jarring climate change disasters have rattled the world. Gen Z paid close attention to these issues and experienced the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic, which wiped away some of their most significant life moments: prom, graduation, and early career launches. Taking in the gravity of these moments, Gen Z acted accordingly.
Threats to reproductive healthcare roused the most liberal voting generation. According to a Time magazine poll, 87% of Gen Z voters of color in battleground states favored legalized abortion. In response to restrictions that endanger their right to physical autonomy, Gen Z mobilized support for concrete strategies. For instance, young Democrats gathered focus groups to take part in facilitated conversations, as Time magazine reports. These groups offered ongoing feedback on political campaigns after Dobbs v. Jackson, the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court that stated that the U.S. Constitution does not grant a right to abortion. Participants of the focus groups also noted how they support and appreciate the clarity of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s action plan, and the fact that she was willing to do away with the Senate filibuster to codify the Roe v. Wade ruling.
Twenty-five-year-old Maxwell Alejandro Frost made history this election as the first member of Gen Z to be elected to Congress, beating Republican opponent Calvin Wimbish for a Florida U.S. House seat. In his victory speech, Frost stated that he started organizing at 15 because he “didn’t want to get shot at [his] school.” He worked as an activist for March for Our Lives, an organization dedicated to preventing gun violence and founded by Parkland school shooting survivors. In his campaign, he advocated for tackling climate change and stopping gun violence, two issues highly important to Gen Z voters. Frost’s early involvement in politics reflects the Gen Z vigor, and marks the beginning of our engagement as political leaders.
According to the States of Change project, millennials and Gen Z will account for 45% of all votes cast in 2024, making us the largest voting bloc by age. These increasing numbers will fundamentally alter our political system. As the most diverse generation in American history, people of color now make up 48% of Gen Z. To keep up our powerful momentum, all of Gen Z must continue to step up and be a determined part of progressive change.