Can a major political party survive losing two entire generations? The GOP is about to find out.
The GOP is confronting its shortcomings with Gen Z, as this voter group increasingly demonstrates its influence leading up to the 2024 elections. Young voters predominantly side with Democrats on matters such as gun control, abortion, climate change, and LGBTQ rights, creating a difficult situation for Republicans aiming to engage younger constituents.
A Pew Research study from last year revealed that 77% of Gen Z voters cast their ballots for Democratic congressional candidates, compared to just 21% for Republicans. Former New Hampshire GOP congressional candidate Karoline Leavitt described the party’s challenge in connecting with her generation as “colossal.”
Gen Z voters tend to prioritize issues like abortion access when voting. The Walton Family Foundation/Murmuration survey showed that abortion and reproductive rights ranked as the top concern for this generation in 2022 at 29%, followed by the economy and inflation combined at 12%. John Della Volpe, the director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, identified climate, healthcare accessibility, and gun violence reduction proposals as additional areas of focus for young voters.
Della Volpe argued that the GOP’s struggle with Gen Z and millennial voters stems from a discrepancy in values. However, some Gen Z conservatives believe that improving messaging, rather than altering values, is the key to winning over their peers. Leavitt emphasized the need for Republicans to better communicate their perspectives on issues like gun violence to younger voters.
Gen Z conservatives and Republicans suggest leveraging social media to reach their demographic more effectively. Isabel Brown, a contributor at Turning Point USA, highlighted the importance of engaging with younger audiences on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Leavitt agreed, pointing to Democrats’ significant investment in digital marketing and advertising on social media.
To address their Gen Z predicament, the Republican Party has launched initiatives like the Youth Advisory Council. Despite the majority of Gen Z voters aligning with Democrats, both parties recognize that this group is generally uninterested in affiliating with a specific political party. Brown cited environmental issues as a nonpartisan concern for Gen Z and noted the need for empathy in political discussions, particularly on subjects like gun violence.
In summary, the Republican Party is grappling with its challenges in appealing to Gen Z voters, who tend to side with Democrats on key issues. While some believe the GOP needs to change its values, others argue that improving messaging and engaging on social media platforms is the way to win over this crucial demographic.