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NY Post
New York Post
5 Aug 2023

NextImg:Republicans are sleeping on the Gen Z vote — it’s going to backfire

Conservative politicians are sleeping on the youth vote — and it’s a recipe for disaster at the polls. 

True, young people tend to tack left, but discounting the next generation as a progressive monolith is a political strategy that’s destined to backfire, especially considering that half of all eligible voters will be Gen Zers or millennials by 2028.

Although two-thirds of young voters went blue in 2020 — and many helped Democrats coast to victory in the midterms last year — it doesn’t always have to be that way.

Millennials are moving solidly to the right as they age, with Biden’s 2020 margin shrinking to just half of Obama’s in 2008.

Meanwhile, the generation with the most precipitous drop in approval ratings for President Biden was actually Gen Z, plummeting a hefty 21 points between just his inauguration and early 2022.

In fact, the majority of Zoomers aren’t even registered Democrats.

Roughly a fifth are Republicans — while an ever bigger share yet (a whopping 52%) are Independents, many of whom are desperate for a politician to earn their votes.

President Biden has seen the largest drop in approval ratings among Gen Zers, according to recent polls.

Unsurprisingly, many in my generation feel politically homeless. Raised in an age of rabid partisanship, we were forced every four years to choose between the “lesser of two evils” at the ballot box.

Hillary vs. Trump and Biden vs. Trump — they’re the only elections we really remember.

No wonder we’re so unhappy with the options before us.

Both parties are to blame.

A group of young people smiling

The majority of Gen Z voters are registered independents with an “earn my vote” attitude.

On the left, there’s only pandering to youth issues — from student loans to housing affordability to climate change to gender identity — while the right seemingly puts their hands up and says “You can have them.”

It’s a shockingly shortsighted blunder — especially considering so many conservative causes clearly could appeal to young voters. If only conservatives would make an effort.

Why not, for instance, frame the issue of the economy and inflation in terms of making your first down payment on a house?

Or tout tax cuts as help in securing an adequate salary to support your future family? Or promote financial literacy to guide Gen Z through the trillion-dollar wealth transfer that lies before us?

Or embrace the “live and let live” mantra on contentious social issues?

Or even turn deregulatory zeal towards fighting zoning laws that make housing unaffordable, especially for young people who tend to be lower earners stretched thin by rent payments?

And even though student loan forgiveness has become a darling of the left, why don’t Republicans campaign on a promise to meaningfully reform education financing — guaranteeing that the next generation of students doesn’t get screwed over the same way current borrowers have?

These issues are low-hanging fruit ready-made for the right.

Young woman casting a ballot

By 2028, the majority of all eligible voters will be either Gen Zers or Millennials, according to reports.

And yet Republicans have lost sight of the fact that they’ll need a plurality of young voters to win any general election.

It seems only one Republican hopeful has come to terms with this reality.

Although he alienated some young voters by advocating for raising the minimum voting age to 25, Vivek Ramaswamy understands the power of the youth vote.

Millennial candidate Vivek Ramaswamy told The Post he's turning his sights on the youth vote.

Millennial candidate Vivek Ramaswamy told The Post he’s turning his sights on the youth vote.
Timothy Fadek

Perhaps, to no great surprise, it comes down to Ramaswamy’s age.

At just 37, the youngest primary contender has seen considerable gains among Millennials and Z-ers — who have helped him come in above DeSantis in some recent polls.

In an interview earlier this week, he told me why turning to the next generation and providing them with a restorative vision is key to his campaign strategy.

“Young people are the missing link to winning a landslide election,” he told The Post. “I think bringing young voters — millennials and Gen Z — in meaningful size with us will be a critical element to delivering on that landslide.” 

He’s right — and any other politician who takes up this attitude will be better off for it in the long run.