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Gen Z Names The Top Issues They’re Concerned About In The 2024 Election

As the 2024 election draws closer, the political landscape is being shaped by a new wave of young voters eager to make their voices heard. 41 million people within the Gen Z demographic will be eligible to vote come November 2024 — with 8 million of them being eligible to vote for the first time. Gen Z is emerging as a powerful force with distinct priorities and a clear vision for the future, evident in a survey conducted by Her Campus in December 2023 — which gave insight into the priorities of Gen Z a year out of the 2024 presidential election — and more recently, a follow-up survey conducted in May 2024.

The December 2023 survey provided an initial snapshot of the issues that were most important to Gen Z at the time. Reproductive rights, gun control, and climate change topped the list, reflecting the immediate concerns and anxieties of young voters as they looked ahead to the election year. Six months later, the May 2024 follow-up survey reveals both continuity and change in the priorities of Gen Z. While some issues have gained traction, others have seen slight shifts in importance, highlighting the responsive and evolving nature of this generation’s political activism.

One thing is clear from both surveys: Gen Z is not a monolithic group. Their concerns are varied and deeply personal, shaped by their experiences and the socio-political context they navigate daily. From reproductive rights to gun control and economic stability, these young voters are demanding attention and action on the issues that directly impact their lives. However, despite their clear priorities, there remains a significant misalignment between their concerns and those of the elected officials meant to represent them.

A striking 57% of survey respondents in May 2024 either strongly or somewhat disagree that elected officials care about the issues they prioritize. This sentiment underscores an unfortunate sense of disillusionment and frustration with the current political landscape. Only a small fraction, 15%, feels that their concerns are somewhat or strongly aligned with those of their representatives.

When looking at the specific issues that matter most to Gen Z (outlined below), it becomes evident that this generation is not only aware of the challenges they face, but also ready to advocate for the solutions they believe in. The insights from Her Campus’s May 2024 survey not only offer a compelling look into the minds of young voters, but a roadmap for politicians seeking to engage with and address the needs of this influential demographic.

In May 2024, reproductive rights emerged as the most pressing issue for Gen Z, with 59% of respondents listing it as their top concern. (This marks a slight decrease from 66% in December 2023, though it still cements this issue at the top of the list of concerns.) Since the December 2023 survey, the ongoing debates and legislative changes surrounding abortion access have only intensified the desire among young people for autonomy over their bodies, including the IVF ruling in Alabama and the conservative fight to limit or restrict birth control access. With the continued — and endless — conversation around personal freedom and choice heading into the first presidential debate on June 27, it is hard to imagine Gen Z losing steam on this top issue ahead of November.

Growing up in the shadow of school shootings, young people are calling for stricter gun control laws…

Gun control also remains incredibly important among Gen Z voters. In December 2023, 55% of respondents identified it as a key issue, which is higher than the 35% who responded the same way in May 2024. However, the issue still remains the second-most important topic to Gen Z between the two surveys. Growing up in the shadow of school shootings, young people are calling for stricter gun control laws, including background checks and restrictions on assault weapons. Despite the current administration’s launch of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention in September 2023, CNN reports that there have been 32 school shootings in the first 151 days of 2024. While that is less than the records set by the first 151 days of 2023 and 2022, it’s still higher than the first 151 days of any other year since 2008, according to CNN.

Economic concerns, including job security, inflation, and the rising cost of living, remain a significant priority for Gen Z as they round the corner into the job market post-graduation. Although slightly decreasing from 27% in December 2023 to 26% in May 2024, financial stability is still a top concern as many young adults attempt to navigate the transition from college to career.

The burden of student loans and the rising cost of higher education are significant stressors for young voters…

24% of survey respondents identified education and student debt as the No. 4 most important issue for them this election cycle. The burden of student loans and the rising cost of higher education are significant stressors for young voters, despite the Biden administration’s efforts to provide student loan forgiveness plans in the last six months. Meanwhile, college campuses around the country became the epicenter for political unrest surrounding the Israel-Hamas war this spring; this issue is the fifth-most important concern ahead of the November 2024 election.

As Gen Z continues to mobilize and engage in the political process, these findings underscore the urgency for politicians to listen to and address the issues that matter most to young voters. The message from Gen Z is clear: they want change, they want action, and they want leaders who genuinely care about their future.

Her Campus has partnered with Gen Alpha organization, Rebel Girls, to amplify the voices of future and young female voters through data that shines a light on their most pressing political concerns. You can find data from Gen Alpha here. For more on Her Campus’s content surrounding the 2024 election, check out our Election hub here. We’re also going on tour to college campuses around the country, with our Her Campus Voices: Election 2024 Tour, which you can read more about here.

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