Social Studies

What Do Gen Z Voters Care About Most? A Survey Offers Insights

By Evie Blad — February 16, 2023 3 min read
Image of voting and party lines.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Gen Z Americans believe it’s their responsibility to be civically engaged, but they want more information to make decisions at the polls, a new survey finds.

Members of Gen Z, who are ages 15-25 and at or near voting age, are also less likely than members of older generations to say their schools did a good job preparing them to be “an active and engaged citizen.”

Those are the findings of a nationally representative poll conducted in December by SocialSphere, the Walton Family Foundation, and Murmuration, a political consulting organization that focuses on education policy.

Alongside that post-midterm election poll of about 2,000 Americans in various generations, the organizations conducted focus groups of Gen Z voters to determine how they approach civic involvement.

The findings offer lessons for educators interested in nurturing students’ interest in all levels of government and for issues-focused groups interested in influencing their vote, said Emma Bloomberg, the CEO of Murmuration.

“We got into this research project because we believe Gen Z has the potential to change the political landscape in the coming years, and we hope they will change it for the better,” she said.

Here are some key findings from the research.

Gen Z wants to be more informed before they vote

Of survey participants who voted in the midterms, Gen Z respondents were less likely than those in older generations to say they had everything they needed to feel comfortable with their choices. They were more likely to say they wished they had more information before voting.

Of those Gen Z voters, 36 percent said they would prefer to get more information from the internet, 12 percent from social media, and 12 percent from email. Other forms of communication and media were far less favored.

That response may help inform schools’ media literacy work, including work to help students vet proper news sources and locate reliable information that can inform their vote.

Young Americans also want more help from schools to engage in civics. Thirty-seven percent of Gen Z respondents agreed their schools did an “excellent” or “good” job preparing them “to be an active and engaged citizen,” compared to 41 percent of adults ages 26 and older.

“There’s a real opportunity, I think, in a nonpartisan and not overtly political way for schools to really help students understand what government—and local government— does,” Bloomberg said.

Gen Z more likely to report depression, anxiety, than older respondents

Gen Z survey respondents were more likely than those in older generations to report feeling depressed or anxious.

Those findings are in keeping with federal data and with warnings from the U.S. Surgeon General that the nation is in the middle of a youth mental health crisis.

Rather than disengaging because of those experiences, the youngest voters seemed to remain committed to voting and finding ways to change policies at all levels of government, the report found.

Thirty percent of Gen Z respondents agreed they had a duty to vote as Americans.

Abortion is a top voting issue for Gen Z

Asked what political issue concerned them most when they cast their ballot, Gen Z voters were most likely to say abortion and women’s rights. Voters in older generations were most likely to say the economy or inflation drove their votes.

A concern about school safety

In education, Gen Z’s top issue was safety, similar to many older voters. Just 27 percent of Gen Z respondents said “overall academic performance” was a concern, compared to 28 percent of older voters.

The chart below shows the top five education issues for Gen Z voters.

A new generation

Much of the way educators and politicians talk about young voters today was shaped by former President Barack Obama’s campaigns, which reached millennials through pioneering use of social media and the internet.

But Gen Z participants in the Murmuration focus groups distinguished themselves from their older peers.

For example, they said they value action by politicians over celebrity endorsements.

“Those plays were very effective then,” Bloomberg said. “This is a different generation, and they want to be thought of differently.”

Related Tags:

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Social Studies What the Research Says Oral History Offers a Model for How Schools Can Introduce Students to Complex Topics
Community history projects like a curriculum in Memphis, Tenn. can help students grapple with issues like school segregation, experts say.
4 min read
A group photo picturing 12 of the Memphis 13.
A group photo of 12 of the Memphis 13 students.
Courtesy of the Memphis 13 Foundation
Social Studies How These Teachers Build Curriculum 'Beyond Black History'
A pilot to infuse Black history and culture in social studies is gaining ground in New York.
4 min read
Photograph of Dawn Brooks-DeCosta at Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School in the Bronx.
Dawn Brooks Decosta, pictured on Oct. 2, 2020, is the deputy superintendent of the Harlem Community School District 5 in New York. Its 23 schools piloted units of a curriculum developed in collaboration between local educators and the Black Education Research Center at Columbia University Teachers College.
Kirsten Luce for Education Week
Social Studies Q&A Here's How AP African American Studies Helps Teachers 'Get Students to Think'
Ahenewa El-Amin in Kentucky is teaching the second year pilot of the College Board's new course set to officially launch this fall.
4 min read
Ahenewa El-Amin leads a conversation with students during her AP African American Studies class at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Ky., on March 19, 2024.
Ahenewa El-Amin leads a conversation with students during her AP African American Studies class at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Ky., on March 19, 2024.
Jaclyn Borowski/Education Week
Social Studies What Students Have to Say About AP African American Studies
Students at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Ky., share their takeaways from the pilot course that officially launches this fall.
5 min read
Nia Henderson Louis asks a question during AP African American Studies class at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Ky., on March 19, 2024.
Nia Henderson-Louis asks a question during AP African American Studies at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Ky., on March 19.
Jaclyn Borowski/Education Week