The Generation Z population, generally born between 1994 to 2012, is gearing up to leave a substantial mark on the upcoming 2024 election. Notably, they aren't just influencing the polls in the expected way. The estimated number of Gen Z voters, renowned for their racial and cultural diversity, is set to rise by 7 to 9 million compared to 2020. Concurrently, voting numbers from the older, predominantly white Baby Boomers and their predecessors are expected to drop.
Democrats, traditionally favored by both Gen Z and Millennial voters, may find opportunities in this shift. Nevertheless, this influx of new voters might not suffice to break the political deadlock that has carved the nation into red and blue territories. This emerges from an analysis of previously undisclosed election data by Catalist, a Democratic targeting firm, conducted by Michael Podhorzer, former political director for the AFL-CIO.
The analytical insights from Podhorzer reveal Gen Z voters leaning heavily towards Democrats in blue states, and providing steadfast support in fiercely contested swing states. However, in red states, with a few outliers, Gen Z is predominantly backing Republicans. Such dynamics indicate challenges for both parties - Republicans may grapple to secure the crucial 270 Electoral College votes for a presidential victory, while Democrats may find it tough to breach GOP's stronghold in red states.
As the Republican party questions the willingness of these young voters to support President Joe Biden, it is important to note that the same younger voters have consistently shown up in significant numbers in past elections, despite a lack of enthusiasm for Biden. They appear to be driven by an understanding of the considerable stakes and their inclination towards Democratic control.
The next election in 2024 is expected to see a surge in Gen Z's influence with a predicted influx of new young voters. Demographer William Frey estimates about 15.4 million eligible young people will turn 18 between the 2020 election and the next. Gen Z, which constituted just 2 percent of voters in 2016, might see their share of the electorate rise to 13 percent in 2024. The Millennial generation, born between 1981 to 1994, is also projected to increase their share of the electorate.
This could result in a historical equilibrium in 2024, where the combined Gen Z and Millennial generations and the Baby Boomers and their predecessors each make up 37 percent of voters. If this prediction holds, it could mean the end of the longstanding dominance of the Republican-leaning older cohorts in the electorate.
Additionally, party divisions are increasingly being defined more by cultural identity than class interest. Younger generations tend to align more with Democrats, with less than 55 percent of Millennials being white, and just slightly more than half of Gen Z.
Despite these transformations, the overall electoral map may not experience a drastic shift. Even with the Democratic advantage among young voters, geographical variance often fortifies existing electoral divisions rather than disrupting them. Democrats have a notable edge with Gen Z in consistently Democratic states and maintain a firm lead in swing states. Yet, in red states, despite performing better with Gen Z than with older generations, Republicans still hold the majority.
The Democrats' most viable strategy may be to concentrate on rallying these new voters in battleground states instead of attempting to regain blue-collar white voter who have moved towards Trump. The Republican party, however, shouldn't overlook these shifts. Their base is changing, and if they fail to adjust, they might have to work harder to gain more support from decreasing demographics, a mathematical equation that becomes more challenging as the generational transition continues.
In conclusion, the evolving demographic landscape could profoundly alter American politics, presenting opportunities and challenges for both Democrats and Republicans. The rise of Generation Z as a political force is an unignorable reality, one that could redefine the electoral map and American politics in the years to come.