Story at a glance
- A new survey took a closer look at Gen Z voters ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.
- Eighty-six percent of respondents felt this year’s midterms would have an impact on their lives.
- Racial equity, environment, inflation and the economy and abortion rights are the top issues of concern among Gen Z voters.
The midterm elections are mere weeks away and voters across the country will decide on consequential races, including some of the nation’s youngest voters who have indicated they plan to turnout to vote and are paying attention to a host of national and global issues.
A study conducted by the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS) polled about 2,300 U.S. high school students and graduates — known as Gen Z, the age group of people born after 1996 — to understand how they viewed the upcoming midterm elections and what issues they care about.
Almost universally, at 86 percent, respondents indicated that they felt the midterms would have an impact on their lives. Another 43 percent thought this year’s midterms would affect them as much as the outcome of the next presidential election.
Eighty-five percent indicated they planned to vote in the midterms, while those who didn’t were either not registered to vote, at 27 percent, or didn’t know the candidates well enough, at 14 percent.
“These survey results say loud and clear that Gen Z not only has a voice about the midterm elections, but they are doing something about it,” said James Lewis, NSHSS president and co-founder, to Changing America in an emailed statement.
“They will be at the polls this November, and they will be shaping the outcomes.”
When ranking issues, racial equity, environment, inflation and the economy and abortion rights were the top four issues of concern among respondents.
Priorities varied among genders, with young women indicating racial equity was the most important issue, while for men it was inflation. For the nonbinary, LGBTQ+ rights were considered the most important.
When asked how Gen Z respondents want to have an impact on the world, human rights were the most popular response at 67 percent. That was followed by education at 59 percent, environment at 54 percent and social justice at 52 percent.
Seventy-three percent of Gen Z respondents also indicated that when it comes to being a political candidate, virtually all that matters is integrity, with traits like relatability, likeability and being a great public speaker trailing far behind.
One-third of Gen Z respondents also said they intend to seek public office, with 14 percent saying they would at the federal level and 12 percent would seek a local seat.
It’s a process that has already started, with Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) and Karoline Leavitt (R-N.H.) currently running as the youngest congressional candidates and are just old enough to hold a House seat at 25-years-old. They both beat older, establishment candidates during their primaries and could become the first Gen Z members of the U.S. House of Representatives come January.
Ignite, a young women’s political leadership group, conducted its own study among Gen Z and found it is the most diverse generation in U.S. history, with 41 percent identifying themselves as white, 33 percent Black and 14 percent Hispanic. Gen Z women voters are also heavily Democratic, while men are split on partisanship.
Ignite estimated that by 2024, Gen Z and Millennials will be the largest voting bloc in the country.