Further underscoring the unprecedented nature of 2020 comes a new college voting study from Tufts University, revealing that not only did college-aged voters show up in droves for last year's presidential election, they actually "smashed" previous voting records and cast ballots in record numbers, reports The Boston Globe.
A record 66 percent of college students voted in the presidential election in 2020, up 14 percentage points from 2016, which represents "a much greater increase than that among the general voting public over that period," writes the Globe. The turnout also "brought the voting rate of college students nearly in line with the rest of the population."
Nancy Thomas, director of Tufts' Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, called the jump "quite stunning."
"That's a first for college students and an exponential jump from past elections," Thomas told the Globe. "Candidates would be very smart to start focusing on communities of young people, and particularly college campuses."
"This is just another indication that Gen Z is coming of age with real purpose," added John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, who noted Gen Z has already proven an "even more critical voting bloc" for those seeking office at all levels than millennials were "at this time."
The increase in turnout was particularly stark among voters ages 18 to 21, many of whom were likely voting for the first time, per the Globe.
According to Thomas, Gen Z was likely motivated by issues "they care deeply about," like climate change and racial justice. And that's without mentioning the slew of get-out-the-vote efforts across college campuses. Added Thomas: "The agonizing death of George Floyd spurred this generation to action in ways that I don't think we'd seen before."