A recent Vanity Fair piece trotted out the tiresome argument that while conservative activist groups like Turning Point USA and Young Americans for Freedom are popular with young people, conservatives have failed to translate that enthusiasm into votes at the ballot box.
This outdated narrative does not take into account the losses Democrats have faced with young people in recent elections – or the fact that while many young voters don’t necessarily identify as Republicans, they are increasingly wary of the far-left’s political agenda.
“For all of this organizing, conservatives just can’t seem to get young people to the polls”, writes Vanity Fair’s Caleb Ecarma. “Year after year, election after election, Republicans have been hemorrhaging voters in the 18–29 demographic—and while most pollsters, activists, and strategists on the right can agree on the urgency of the issue, no one, it seems, can settle on a solution.”
This rhetoric might be comforting for the beltway elite, but it is missing the fact that Democrats have been losing ground with younger voters in recent elections. According to exit polls, Republicans have seen gains in support from younger age groups compared to the 2018 midterm elections. The GOP gained 7 points with 18–29-year-olds and 15 points with 30-44 year-olds between midterm elections. Democrats also lost voters 40–49 outright after winning them narrowly in 2018.
What is more, former President Donald Trump’s popularity has risen substantially among both Gen Z and Millennial voters. Trump’s approval rating has increased by 14 points among Gen Z and 10 points among Millennials since last fall. Among GOP/Leaners under age 30, a whopping 66% want Trump to run again, which is the highest of any age group.
In several battleground states, Gen Z voters supported Republican congressional candidates at higher rates than Millennials did. For example, in the Wisconsin Senate race last year, Ron Johnson won re-election with support from 36% of 18–24-year-olds, compared to just 24% of 25–29-year-olds. While this is by no means a blow-out victory for Johnson, it represents a 12-point difference between who Gen Z and Millennial voters supported and begs further research.
In Florida last year, while DeSantis performed well with young people overall compared to 2018, his strongest support came from the 18–24-year-old cohort. Gen Z voters supported DeSantis by 3-points more than Millennials did, and Zoomers moved to the right by four points compared to 2018.
In the Michigan Governor’s race, young people voted overwhelmingly Democrat, but voters in the 18–24-year-old cohort supported GOP candidate Tudor Dixon by five-points more than those in the 25–29-year-old cohort. In fact, Zoomers supported GOP newcomer Tudor Dixon at the highest rate of any age group under forty.
Moreover, young men remain significantly less liberal than young women, and a growing portion are rejecting the radical left’s gender ideology, even as Boomers and Gen X voters continue to uphold it.
Gallup Polling shows 44% of young women ages 18-29 identify as liberal, the highest number in two decades. However, only a quarter of young men identify as liberal.
Younger men are also rejecting liberalism and adopting reactionary views. Research out of the Southern Poverty Law Center last year warned about “right wing extremism” among young men, including Democrats. The survey found nearly half of Democrat men (47%) under age 50 believe “gender ideology has corrupted American culture” while only 20% of Democrat men over age 50 agree. Younger Democrats also admit the transgender movement is a threat to children, with 42% of younger Democrat men saying that the transgender movement is a threat to children and 40% saying it is “trying to indoctrinate children.”
A Meredith College poll from 2022 also showed while Gen Z does hold more liberal positions on issues like abortion and LGBTQ+ issues, young men hold significantly fewer liberal views than young women. Polling shows almost half of Gen Z voters want to expand abortion access, compared to just 29% of Millennials. However, that view is primarily driven by young women.
Zoomer men are much less amenable to expanding abortion access than Gen Z women. The Meredith College data also shows a significant share of Gen Z men hold a more traditional view of gender roles. Gen Z men say they prefer a male political leader at the highest rate of any age group.
Overall, these findings indicate that there is a vast generational divide among men when it comes to views on radical feminism and gender ideology. Younger voters, particularly Gen Z, are shifting towards conservative and populist views, and they reject the radical left’s gender ideology.
According to research conducted by Americans for Limited Government Foundation over the past five years, Gen Z voters are becoming more conservative and populist than their Millennial predecessors.
While Gen Z is not necessarily conservative as a whole, many young voters identify as moderates and hold views that place them at odds with the modern Democratic Party. For instance, Gen Z voters oppose globalist policies, foreign military intervention, and support an America First agenda at surprisingly high rates when these positions are not marketed as “Republican”. Additionally, Zoomers are skeptical of the college industrial complex and more likely to lean right if they forgo a four-year degree for alternative routes.
Our research shows younger voters have adopted a self-interested form of “libertarian populism” that rejects globalism and foreign intervention and favors the rule of law. This is reflected in Zoomer support for an America First philosophy, which is supported by 85% of young Republicans, 74% of young Independents, and 65% of young Democrats.
In terms of immigration policy, Gen Z rejects open borders and lawlessness, with 81% saying that immigrants must follow the rules to become citizens, even if they are difficult. Additionally, 58% of Gen Z say that if illegal immigrants cause problems, they need to leave or go through the proper procedures to stay. This stance is supported by 86% of Generation Z Republicans, 61% of Generation Z Independents, and 42% of Generation Z Democrats.
These findings suggest that Gen Z voters are emerging onto a new political playing field, and the modern Democratic Party is not necessarily the default choice like it was for Millennials. As both parties continue to shift and realign, it will be interesting to see how Gen Z’s political views and preferences evolve.
Manzanita Miller is an associate analyst at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.
Cross-posted with The Daily Torch
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