Health care, mass shootings top Gen Z priorities for 2022 midterms

Story at a glance

  • Mass shootings, health care and mental health are top of mind for Gen Z voters this election cycle.

  • Because this group is more focused on casting votes on issues rather than party affiliation, candidates may want to tailor their campaign to Gen Z concerns in order to win their support.

  • By 2024, Millennials and Gen Z are on track to account for the largest share of U.S. voters.

Candidates hoping to win the Gen Z vote in the upcoming midterm elections may want to hyperfocus on health care, mental health and mass shootings as a new poll suggests these are top priorities for young Americans.

A new poll from Ignite, a young women’s political leadership group, found nearly two-thirds of Gen Z respondents said health care was one of their top issues going into the midterms. More than 1,000 people born after 1996 were surveyed in May 2022.

Among the entire population polled, abortion was not a top issue, but when cisgender men were filtered out of the sample, leaving only cisgender women, trans men, trans women and gender-fluid individuals, abortion became a top issue.

A leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was released one week prior to the survey.

Researchers also surveyed Americans from older generations and found inflation was a high priority among Gen X, baby boomers and the silent generation, and was ranked the second-highest issue for millennials.

Inflation was ranked fourth among Gen Z, but for cisgender Gen Z men, inflation was the top priority.

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The top five voting priorioties for cisgender Gen Z men were inflation, health care, mental health, jobs and unemployement and mass shootings, respectively.

For women, trans, and gender-noncomforming participants the top five issues included health care, mass shootings, mental health, racial inequity and abortion.

Notably, climate change has not been listed as a top issue for Gen Z since 2019, according to Ignite data.

“Just as we saw in Kansas, Gen Z is going to be a transformational force at the ballot box this November,” said Sara Guillermo, CEO of IGNITE, in a statement.

“We know that this generation votes based on issues rather than political party, so understanding what motivates them as a voting bloc is critical for any candidate or campaign.”

When it comes to demographics, Gen Z is also the most diverse generation in America. Thirty percent identify as LGBTQ+, 33 percent as Black and 14 percent as Hispanic.

Young women voters also tend to vote Democrat while Gen Z men are more split with regard to party affiliation. Ignite data show that since 2019, more men voted Republican and less voted Democrat. An increasing share also now identify as independents.

By 2024, current trends show Gen Z and millennial voters will make up the largest voting blocs in the U.S. Despite increasing voter turnout among Gen Z members, especially women, just 15 to 20 percent of the youngest generation typically votes in midterm elections.

Several barriers could prevent these young voters from making their way to the ballot box this November, including lack of political knowledge on who and what they will vote for. Gen Z might also not connect political participation with how the government affects their day-to-day lives.

In addition, Gen Z might not understand how to register and where to vote, especially if they are away from home and at school.

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