Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

The 2024 presidential election is officially less than 10 months away, and Americans have mixed feelings about it, to say the least. Despite low approval ratings, President Joe Biden appears to be the leading Democratic candidate in his bid for re-election. Debates for the Republican presidential nomination have been ongoing, but the leading candidate appears to be former President Trump, despite charges against him in several criminal cases. To the dismay of many U.S. citizens, the 2024 presidential election ballot will likely have the exact same candidates as 2020 for the Democratic and Republican parties, though that hasn’t stopped many other candidates from stepping up to the plate. The 2024 election is shaping up to be a crucial event, and as with previous elections, there is one key demographic candidates need to secure to be successful in their campaigns: Generation Z.

Members of Gen Z will make up 40 million of the eligible voters in the U.S. this year, 8 million of which will be able to vote for the first time. The people born in this age group make up a crucial demographic in national elections. Gen Z was credited with preventing a “red wave” during the 2022 midterm elections, as young people voted for Democrats in key states. For instance, in the Pennsylvania Senate race, Democrats were able to flip a Republican seat largely due to Gen Z showing up at the polls.

In December 2023, Her Campus conducted a 657-person survey to gauge the political opinions of Gen Z in the lead-up to the 2024 election. Overwhelmingly, survey respondents shared their dissatisfaction with the state of the country, a result that seems to be echoed by the U.S. as a whole. Specifically, the majority of Americans are not pleased with potentially having to vote for either Trump or Biden yet again.

Her Campus’ survey respondents — 92% of whom are currently in college — shared all of their thoughts on the upcoming election. Here’s where they stand on several key political issues.

Gen Z Voting Logistics

Of the 97% of respondents who will be eligible to vote in the 2024 election, 95% are planning to cast a ballot. A majority (82%) of respondents said voting is important to them, but 35% of respondents said they felt pressured to vote in the upcoming election. The majority of respondents (63%) shared that they planned to vote in-person this fall, compared to 35% planning to vote by mail. 

Although the majority of respondents believe that voting is important, few plan on taking further steps to be involved in the political process. Only 5% shared they were planning on volunteering at their local polling place, and just over half (52%) said they planned on watching the presidential debates. This isn’t too surprising, considering debate viewership has steadily declined in recent years: 73 million watched the first 2020 presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, compared to 84 million in 2016 between Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Gen Z’s General Political Knowledge

Most of the survey respondents (70%) say that they understand the voting process in the United States. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of Gen Zers get their information about the news and electoral candidates from the internet — 59% said they got their news from social media, with the runner-up being other digital news sources at 18%. Candidates have taken notice of social media’s powerful influence on elections, as networks like Facebook have become a game-changer in advertisement campaigning. Non-digital sources had very low impact on Gen Zers — only 3% of respondents said they got their news from print media.

Another important aspect of political knowledge is the system that America uses for elections — the Electoral College. Most states (excluding Nebraska and Maine) have a “winner-take-all” policy, which means all Electoral College votes will go towards the candidate that received the most popular votes in a state. This means it’s possible to win the popular vote but still lose the election, which has happened several times — including in 2016. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but since Donald Trump received more electoral votes, he was named the president.

The Electoral College has been a point of contention for many years, but Gen Z is particularly fed up with it — 46% of respondents said they believed the Electoral College should be abolished or significantly changed. Only 19% believed it should stay the same. Possibly the most disturbing stat is that 23% said they didn’t understand how the Electoral College worked. 

Eliminating the Electoral College is not a phenomenon limited to Gen Z — the majority of U.S. adults (65%) are in favor of eliminating the Electoral College and changing the way the president is elected, according to a 2023 Pew Research Center Survey.

Gen Z’s Specific Political Opinions

Just over half (51%) of Gen Zers surveyed by Her Campus identify with the Democratic party, compared to 13% with the Republican party, 12% Independent, and 17% who are not affiliated with any party. Gen Zers seem to have stuck with their political party for the past few elections, with only 11% saying they’ve changed their party affiliation in the past five years.

Those who have changed their affiliation over the years had several reasons for doing so. One respondent shared, “I switched from Republican to Independent because I agree with most of the Republican arguments, except for climate change. I side with the Democrats on that.” Another wrote, “I became more informed about certain things and have had personal experiences that have changed my opinions on several issues.”

Respondents were asked to select their top three issues that they believed were most important in the 2024 election. The top answers were reproductive rights (66%), gun control (55%), and energy, environment, and climate change (38%). This makes sense, since a large majority (87%) believe social justice is important in decisions around voting.

Most Gen Zers (82%) said they are concerned with the outcome of the 2024 election. And 44% said they were dissatisfied with the current state of the American government, along with 33% who were very dissatisfied. Many Gen Zers have expressed their discontent with Biden’s presidency thus far. According to a 2023 New York Times poll, almost three-quarters of voters between ages 18-29 disagree with the president’s pro-Israel stance on the war in Gaza. Voters are also angry that Biden has not kept several of his campaign promises, like canceling student loan debt or ceasing construction on the U.S./Mexico border wall.

Her Campus asked which candidate respondents would vote for if the election happened today, and the winner was Joe Biden with 32%. The runner-up was fellow Democrat Marianne Williamson with 24%. 

Many members of Gen Z are not happy with any of the candidates who are likely to be on the ballot, however. A few said they were unsure at this point who they would vote for. One said if they had to vote right now, “I straight-up wouldn’t vote.”

Gen Z’s Political Influences

Despite lots of Gen Zers opening up about how their political beliefs have clashed with those of their parents, when asked which groups most strongly shaped Gen Z’s political views, the top answer was family (82%). Other influential factors include friends, political figures, and posts seen on social media. 

Interestingly, Gen Z seems more likely to share views with a romantic partner than with a member of their family. Over a quarter (27%) of respondents said their views somewhat aligned with their significant other, and 33% said their views strongly aligned. It seems like political beliefs have become a dealbreaker in many relationships — according to a 2020 YouGov-Economist 2020 poll, 86% of Americans think it’s become more difficult to date someone from the opposite political party in recent years, so Gen Z’s thoughts on the matter are part of a nationwide trend. When Her Campus asked for other factors that influence an individual’s political alignment, multiple respondents said that reading and books have shaped their viewpoints.

Although members of Gen Z have varying political views, one thing is for sure: we’re here to stay and make our voices heard in the U.S. government. This generation has a lot of power, and is absolutely determined to make an impact.

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.