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Gen Z Is *Over* U.S. Politics. Here’s Why They’re Voting Anyway

The 2024 presidential election is now only a few months away, and if reactions to the first presidential debate are any indication, many Americans are dreading that first Tuesday in November. The Republican and Democratic frontrunners — Donald Trump and Joe Biden, respectively — are the same as they were for the 2020 election, and many voters are frustrated by  this fact, as well as the overall current state of affairs in the country. One group of voters who is particularly fed up with all of the above is Gen Z.

In the spring of 2024, Her Campus conducted a survey to gauge how Gen Z feels about voting in the months leading up to the election. Of the 340 survey participants, an overwhelming 93% said they were not particularly satisfied with the state of U.S. politics, with 73% specifying they were either “dissatisfied” or very “dissatisfied.”

A big part of this dissatisfaction has to do with young voters not feeling properly represented. 55% of survey participants said they do not believe politicians care about the same things as their constituents. “I do not feel our current political system is set up to consider and actually facilitate the wants and needs of the voters,” a college student from Florida shared in the survey. “It’s hard to see positive outcomes of the voting process when politicians consistently go against the desires of the people they are meant to be serving.” 

A student from Wisconsin wrote, “Personally, I feel very unenthusiastic about my first experience voting. I like neither of the main candidates, as many other Gen Z voters have echoed, and it feels like history is just repeating itself. We want change, not another old guy who’s already been in office before, [like] Trump and Biden.”

Interestingly, even though Gen Z is seemingly “over” the 2024 election, many of them haven’t given up. 87% of survey respondents said they plan to vote in the 2024 presidential election, 83% said they were concerned with the outcome of the election, and 76% said voting is important to them. 

There seem to be a few reasons why Gen Z is choosing to remain politically active, despite their negative feelings toward politics.

Gen Zers Are Committed To Voting On Issues That Matter To Them

For Gen Z, there are a few core issues that contribute to their decision to vote — chief among them is reproductive rights, which 58% of the Gen Zers surveyed named as an issue of top importance in the upcoming election. “As a future health professional, I am very concerned about the state of policies regarding health care and reproductive rights,” one respondent from Illinois wrote. 

Gun control, the economy, the Israel-Hamas war, healthcare, and education are among the other top issues young voters are taking into consideration when casting their ballots.

“Innocent people are dying, whether because of healthcare issues, lack of reproductive rights, safety in schools, gun control, or police brutality,” one student from Pennsylvania wrote.

Young Voters Are Grappling With The “Lesser Of Two Evils” Conundrum

Many survey respondents were clear that they do not want to see Donald Trump in the White House for a second term. Trump was the first president in history to be impeached twice; one of those times was for allegedly inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The former president has also been convicted of 34 federal crimes as of May 2024. Further, one of Trump’s most impactful actions as president was appointing three Supreme Court Justices who contributed to many controversial rulings, including the overturn of Roe v. Wade in 2022. 

“I will not survive four years of Trump … I will not survive gutted healthcare and disability support,” one respondent from Wisconsin wrote. Another Midwesterner shared, “There’s a danger that if Donald Trump is re-elected, our American democracy will be over. The possibility of losing our democratic system is terrifying.”

This doesn’t mean Gen Z is all in on Biden, though. In fact, only 36% of those surveyed said they plan to vote for Biden. (In comparison, Trump tied with independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at 19% each.)

Many prospective Biden voters said they are only voting for him as an alternative to Trump. One respondent from California wrote, “I feel forced to vote for Biden just so that Trump doesn’t win, despite not agreeing with either of their policies.” A voter from Ohio said, “I’m not keen to vote for Biden and would prefer to vote for Kennedy, but I will vote for whoever has the best chance of keeping Trump out.”

While it’s easy to feel apathetic or hopeless about the election — especially when you don’t feel like any presidential candidate aligns with your views and values — many Gen Zers recognize that not voting isn’t going to serve them. As a Gen Zer from Illinois put it, “I feel like not voting just [aids] the worst candidate in the election and I don’t want to help anyone I don’t see as a potential leader for me.”

They’re Voting With The Future In Mind

Many Gen Zers aren’t voting just with the next four years in mind. “Laws put in place are going to impact our age group and our children,” a Gen Zer from Kentucky wrote. “It’s up to us to ensure these votes reflect our generation’s needs and values.”

A young voter from Massachusetts added, “We are the ones most affected by this election as we are embarking into this world that we’re going to be forced to grow up and become full-fledged adults in.”

The president’s power to shape the Supreme Court is also a factor for many, especially considering the next president is expected to fill two SCOTUS seats during their term, which could impact the country for literal decades. “I want to make sure my ideas align with the president I vote for, seeing they will appoint any open SCOTUS seats,” an Ohio voter said.

With 41 million Gen Zers eligible to vote in the 2024 election — 8 million of whom will be able to vote for the first time in a presidential election — the opportunity to make their mark and have their voices heard is a driving factor. “I think that this election is going to truly show how much impact the current generation will have in the future,” a New Jersey voter said. 

A voter from Vermont added, “I need to feel safe in my country and I need to feel that my friends are safe and supported, as we are the future of this country and it’s up to us to make it what we need it to be.”

Overall, despite their hesitant attitudes, the majority of Gen Zers know what’s at stake when it comes to the 2024 election, and they’re not willing to risk it. As one Gen Zer from New Jersey put it: “You don’t get to complain if you choose not to vote.”

Jordyn Stapleton has been a National Lifestyle Writer for Her Campus since February 2023. She covers a variety of topics in her articles, but is most passionate about writing about mental health and social justice issues. Jordyn graduated from CU Boulder in December 2022 with Bachelor’s degrees in music and psychology with a minor in gender studies and a certificate in public health. Jordyn was involved in Her Campus during college, serving as an Editorial Assistant and later Editor-in-Chief for the CU Boulder chapter. She has also worked as a freelance stringer for the Associated Press. Jordyn is currently taking a gap year and working at a local business in Boulder, with hopes of attending graduate school in fall 2024. Jordyn enjoys reading, bullet journalling, and listening to (preferably Taylor Swift) music in her free time. If she isn’t brainstorming her next article, you can usually find her exploring coffee shops or hiking trails around Boulder with her friends.