Changemakers, leaders of tomorrow, and agents of change are common labels afforded to members of Gen Z. While Gen Z’s civic engagement for social and political issues has never been doubted, the 2022 Midterm Election has proved just how influential Gen Z is and will remain to be.
The high turnout rate among young voters for the 2022 Midterm Election could not be categorized as a “red wave” or a “blue wave” but rather more accurately a “youth wave.” More notably, the issues directly impacting young people motivated them to vote.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement estimated that 27% of youth, those ages 18-29, cast a ballot in 2022, making this the midterm election with the second-highest youth voter turnout in almost three decades. Additionally, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement estimated that youth turnout was even higher in some battleground states.
Since the 1990s, youth turnout in midterm elections has consistently been around 20%. In 2018, however, this trend shifted with an increase in young voter turnout that continued in 2022. With more than a quarter of young people casting a ballot in the 2022 Midterms, it is evident that youth are participating in movements, greatly valuing their electoral participation, and working to ensure that their voices are heard on significant issues impacting both them and their communities.
Jack Lobel, the deputy communications director for Voters of Tomorrow, a Gen Z-led organization striving to mobilize young voters, commented on Gen Z’s unique high voter turnout. Lobel explained:
“I think that Gen Z is uniquely connected. You know, in a lot of age groups, we saw that, you know, voters in certain states voted in a certain way, but Gen Z is connected. We feel empathy for our generation and members of our generation in other states…So I voted to - for democracy. I voted for abortion rights. I voted for our future.”
Abortion is one of the numerous issues that young voters care deeply about. Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, youth registered to vote in record numbers in Kansas, in an effort to guarantee that abortion rights are protected by the state. Regardless of where they live in the country, young people continue to vote in support of reproductive choice in politically diverse states.
Lobel said that Voters of Tomorrow has been conducting polling that has revealed just how important of an issue abortion is in the eyes of youth. He said, “I think young voters recognize that when Roe fell, it may have been the first of many rights to fall. And we are all about progress. We are about the future. We are about equity. I think that really summarizes Gen Z.”
The “youth wave” in voting in the 2022 Midterms allowed youth to have a decisive role in the election. Data concludes that young voters in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania gave Democratic candidates a winning advantage in close races.
Georgia voters, for example, set an all-time midterm election early turnout record. Georgia voters exceeded the 2.5 million mark for ballots cast prior to Election Day. “Georgia voters came out in near Presidential-level numbers,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Voting, however, was not the only way Gen Z was able to make a significant impact in the 2022 Midterms. Members of Gen Z even ran for office themselves. Community organizer Maxwell Alejandro Frost recently won his race for Florida Congress, making him the first Generation Z member of the United States Congress. Frost has received great recognition for being elected to Congress where the average age of House members is 58.
Gen Z’s continued engagement and impact on future elections are expected. The 2022 Midterms have made it clear that the generation cares more about the issues affecting communities across the nation rather than merely politics.