Why everyone is talking about the Gen Z vote

We all heard this statistic after the 2016 election: 52% of white women voted for Trump. And now new polling shows the same trend could play out for middle-aged white women in 2020. Yet all the candidates are ignoring a vital demographic: new voters. Given that one-in-ten eligible voters will be from Gen Z this fall (24 million new voters!), Gen Z may prove essential to the outcome of this election cycle.

So what do we know about Gen Z voters?

In both July 2019 and May 2020 our organization, IGNITE, partnered with academic researchers to survey nationally representative samples of Gen Z Americans. We already know that Gen Z voters are disproportionately more likely to identify as Democrats and that the gender gap, in which American women are more likely to identify as Democratic than men, also extends to this demographic. However, in the past year, we found that Gen Z women’s attachment to Democratic Party has actually grown more than 10 points among likely voters, from 57 percent in 2019 to 69 percent in 2020; identification among BIPOC women with the Democratic Party is even higher—3 in 4 BIPOC women identify as Democrats.  

We also found a massive gender gap in voting intentions for this fall: 63 percent of Gen Z women say they intend to vote for Joe Biden, compared with 45 percent of Gen Z men. Donald Trump elicits the support of just 20 percent of Gen Z women likely voters, while 39 percent of Gen Z men say they intend to vote for Donald Trump.  Trump’s support among young Gen Z women of color is even lower: just 13 percent indicate that they intend to vote for Donald Trump this fall. Bear in mind that this data was collected before the historic marches seeing millions of young people in the streets fighting for racial equality. As we head closer to the election, other polling finds that undecided Gen Z voters are breaking in support for Biden, with Gen Z women still giving Biden the edge compared with their male counterparts. 

The bottom line: if the Democratic party wants to win, they need to focus on Gen Z, and especially Gen Z women. And if the Republican party wants to win, they better hope these young women do not vote.