According to McKinsey, individuals born between 1996 and 2010 are considered members of Generation Z. As the second-youngest generation, situated between Generation Alpha and millennials, only around half of Gen Z can vote.
Despite the fact that millions of Gen Zers are still coming into their own, the generation that came of age in the midst of the digital revolution is already reshaping the political stage.
From local campaigns and state-level runoffs to U.S. Senate and House of Representative races, Gen Z had a major impact on our nation’s landscape in 2022. With that in mind, let’s examine some key Gen Z political data, including turnout, motivations, and more.
How Many Gen Z Voters Hit the Polls in 2022?
According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), the national “youth” turnout was approximately 23% last year. This represents a huge increase from 2014 when only 13% of younger voters participated in elections.
CIRCLE found that traditionally blue states had the highest turnout among Gen Z voters. Michigan led with a Gen Z turnout rate of 37%; Colorado, Oregon, Maine, and Michigan all logged turnout rates above 30%.
By contrast, Tennessee, West Virginia, Indiana, Alabama, and Oklahoma had the lowest rates. Each of these states experienced a Gen Z turnout rate at or below 15%.
The biggest differentiator appears to be state-level election policies. Most of the states with high turnout have favorable policies such as same-day or automatic registration. These states also have less stringent voter ID laws, which promotes participation among members of younger generations.
In addition to voter ID laws and other restrictions, some voters were simply too busy, had trouble with their application, or forgot. CIRCLE researchers found that 42% of Gen Z survey participants “forgot” to vote. Another 16% of respondents said they didn’t vote because they experienced difficulties filling out their applications.
What Motivates Gen Z to Vote?
A variety of key issues led to an increase in Gen Z voter turnout in 2022. Some of these include:
Access to Abortion Services
Access to abortion services was a major topic for Gen Zers during the 2022 election cycle.
Following a few pieces of controversial legislation in states like Kansas, Texas, and Pennsylvania, voter registration among Gen Z women surged. According to Fortune, 44% of survey participants ages 18–29 cited abortion access as their top concern when voting last year.
Campaign managers should ensure that voters in their area are up to speed on any emerging bills that could affect abortion access. Getting the word out about these important issues can lead to a similar rise in voter registration and help mobilize Gen Z.
In 2021, Pew conducted a poll of Gen Zers and asked participants to identify the societal issues they were most worried about. 37% of respondents ranked climate change as their chief concern.
Candidates can leverage this information when strategizing how to address climate change during debates. They should also consider sharing information about their climate change policies online so voters know exactly where they stand.
Climate change and abortion access aren’t the only issues at the top of Gen Z voters’ list of priorities. Gen Z is also very concerned about gun violence, according to Project Unloaded.
This concern is prompting many young voters to get more active in local and state campaigns, show up to the polls, and proactively work to affect change within their communities and nationwide.
LGBTQ rights are another topic that potentially increased Gen Z voter participation in 2022. Gen Zers that consider themselves allies to this community showed up to the polls in impressive numbers to support friends and family members as they fight for equal rights.
How Can Campaign Managers Mobilize Gen Z?
First and foremost, campaign managers need to understand what issues are important to Generation Z voters in their area. While some motivations transcend state lines, others are unique to specific geographic regions.
Generation Z grew up in the digital age. As such, members of this influential generation have an insatiable appetite for information. They’re accustomed to learning virtually anything they want by grabbing their smartphone and conducting a quick query on their favorite search engine.
With that in mind, it’s vital that candidates have a strong online presence and are clear about their positions on key issues. According to NPR, one-third of Generation Z voters “wished they had known more” about candidates and their respective stances on important issues during the previous election.
Silence can often be misconstrued as opposition. To avoid inadvertently alienating voters, candidates need to provide Gen Z (and all generations, for that matter) with easy access to information about their campaign points and objectives.
Power Your Campaign Planning With Aristotle
As a leader in political data, Aristotle can connect clients with the data they need to guide decision-making.
In addition to harvesting raw data, Aristotle provides comprehensive data analysis and mining support. Our extensive database includes a National Consumer File with information about more than 250 million consumers and a National Voter File with data about over 235 million registered voters.
Having the right political data can be a game-changer for your campaign. To learn more about how we can empower your strategy and help you mobilize Gen Z voters, connect with Aristotle by giving us a call, reaching out to us online, or booking a demo.