How Millennials and Gen Z are changing politics

Oct 6, 2021, 5:13 PM
Millennials and Gen Z...
FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2018, file photo, the Instagram app logo is displayed on a mobile screen in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — As millennials (born 1981-1996) and Gen Z Americans (born 1997-2012) become more involved with politics, how will their influence change the two major political parties in the nation?

Republican pollster and millennial Kristen Soltis Anderson discussed the changing political landscape involving these two groups of voters with Inside Sources host Boyd Matheson.

Anderson said young voters don’t find their political news from the evening news or newspaper like their parents and grandparents. Rather, they turn to social media, where news becomes blurred with their personal interests.

“Now if you’re young and you are on something like TikTok or Instagram, merged in there with all of the photos of your friends and new beauty trends or soccer stars or whatever it is you’re following, there are probably some political messages and people being activists, talking about issues that matter to them,” she said.

Facebook faces grilling in D.C.

With Facebook the subject of a recent congressional hearing, how important will regulating social-media platforms be for young voters?

A majority of Americans (68%) believe major technology companies have too much power and influence in the economy, according to Pew Research Center.

“Young people are digital natives; they’ve grown up with a lot of this stuff being very normal to them. . . . They’re not as scared of it as an older politician might be,” Anderson said, referencing Sen. Richard Blumenthal gaffe during the Facebook hearing to examine protection of children online, focusing on Facebook, Instagram and mental health.

The 75-year-old senator asked if Facebook was committed to “ending finsta,” according to NPR.

Facebook’s global head of security pointed out that “finsta” is a slang word for a second, secret Instagram account: fake + Insta = finsta.

“It just goes to show that with older politicians tending to dominate our institutions [and] who may be less familiar with what’s actually going on on these platforms, that can create this interesting generational tension around . . . what should we be doing about all this [regulating social-media companies],” Anderson said.

Winning support of Millennials and Gen Z 

What does the Republican Party need to do to attract these Millennials and Gen Z voters? Boyd asked.

Anderson said climate change is a big issue for young Republicans today.

According to NPR, Republicans age 18-39 are more likely than their elder GOPers (by a nearly 2-to-1 margin) to agree that: 

  1. “Human activity contributes a great deal to climate change,” and
  2. “The federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change.”

As for the Democratic Party, Anderson said young voters want the Dems to look much more like a European Green Party, focused on environmental issues and very progressive toward economic and social matters.

“That does not sit well with many older Democrats or establishment Democrats,” Anderson said.

Looking ahead

“What is on your radar as you look toward the 2022 midterms?” Boyd asked.

According to her latest polling, Anderson said President Joe Biden receives his highest marks in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. How well the Biden administration does a year from now with defeating the virus will be a linchpin issue for swing voters, she said.

She added Mr. Biden’s poll numbers have fallen in three areas:

  1. Immigration and immigrants massing at the southern border,
  2. the stagnating economy and
  3. the swift pullout from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app. 

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How Millennials and Gen Z are changing politics