By Bryant Grizzell
In our country’s increasingly polarizing society, a new generation of voters is emerging. Gen Z is the latest generation to enter the polling booth, bringing with them a complex dynamic of personal ideology. This year’s election is set to be the most competitive in history, being the first time that two former presidents are likely to be running against each other. With its sizable amount of the population, Gen Z voters will be a key demographic in this election due to their political orientation and perspective on key political issues.
Like those before it, Gen Z is becoming increasingly more liberal when compared to previous generations. In our (largely) two-party system, voters are split between the Democratic and Republican parties. In the 2020 election, around 65 percent of Gen Z voters voted for the Democratic Party and 31 percent voted for the Republican Party. This number is expected to remain mostly the same, although recent events and the overwhelming unpopularity of both candidates with Gen Z is a cause for uncertainty in polling predictions.
This generation also has varied opinions on several key legal and moral issues that are prevalent to recent elections. Among these are the ban on assault rifles, carbon emission cappings, investment in environment-friendly technology, LGBTQ rights, marijuana legality, abortion, cancel culture, and border control measures. The most divisive issue for the generation is the ban on privately owned assault weapons, with 38.5 percent approval gap between Democratic and Republican voters, followed by the issue of carbon emissions, with a 33.3% percent gap. Both of these are majority supported by Democrats, but majority rejected by Republicans.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t any agreement between voters, however. The most agreed upon issue for Gen Z is the legalization of marijuana with only a 12.2 percent disparity between approval ratings, both of which are majority supported. Just behind this would be the rejection of abortion regulations, with a 16.3 percent gap, and the protection of LGBTQ rights, with a 17.4 percent gap. In both of these cases there is a clear majority of people who support LGBTQ and abortion rights, more so than any other generation.
Although only half of the generation can vote as of right now, Gen Z is still a powerful factor when it comes to politics. Each year, as more people register to vote and run for office, Gen Z becomes more involved in the nitty gritty of the American political landscape. In the coming years, its influence will only increase and shape the entirety of America as a whole, not just in their own states. Surely, it will be interesting to see where the future generation of voters will lead us.