Sustainable Development

How could a more diverse Gen Z affect the 2020 US election?

A student holds an "I Voted" sticker as she leaves a polling station on the campus of the University of California, on Irvine, November 6, 2018 in Irvine, California on election day. - Americans vote Tuesday in critical midterm elections that mark the first major voter test of Donald Trump's presidency, with control of Congress at stake. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Gen Z eligible voters, who range in age from 18 to 23, are a more racially and ethnically diverse group than older generations. Image: AFP via Getty Images

Amanda Barroso
Writer/editor - Social Trends, Pew Research Center
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  • 16 million more people from Generation Z are eligible to vote in the 2020 election, reaching a total of 23 million.
  • Gen Z voters range in age from 18 to 23 and are the most racially and ethnically diverse group when compared to older generations.
  • But only three-in-ten Gen Z eligible voters cast ballots in the 2018 midterm election.

As the presidential election fast approaches and early voting gets underway in some states, interest is building over the impact Generation Z voters – who will make up one-in-ten eligible voters this fall – will have on the outcome.

About one-in-five Gen Z voters are Hispanic.
About one-in-five Gen Z voters are Hispanic. Image: Pew Research Center

Gen Z eligible voters, who range in age from 18 to 23, are a more racially and ethnically diverse group than older generations. While a majority (55%) are non-Hispanic White, a notable 22% are Hispanic, according to a Pew Research Center analysis based on Census Bureau data. Some 14% of Gen Z eligible voters are Black, 5% are Asian and 5% are some other race or multiracial.

The share of Gen Z voters who are Hispanic is significantly higher than the share among Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boomer or Silent Generation and older voters.

Gen Z voters are less likely than their predecessors to be foreign born: 4% were born outside the U.S., compared with 9% of Millennial voters, 15% of Gen X voters, 12% of Baby Boomer voters and 13% of Silent voters and older. This aligns with previous Center studies, which looked at a broader segment of Gen Z – not just citizens who are voting age – and found that Gen Zers are more likely than Millennials to be the children of immigrants. In 2019, 22% of Gen Zers ages 7 to 22 had at least one immigrant parent, compared with 14% of Millennials when they were a comparable age.

In raw numbers, there are more than 23 million eligible Gen Z voters this year, about 16 million more than could vote in the 2016 election – although the Gen Z voters make up significantly smaller shares of the overall electorate than other generations because many aren’t yet eligible to vote. For context, more than 63 million Millennials are eligible to vote this year.

The impact Gen Zers have on the election will depend in large part on voter turnout. Younger voters traditionally turn out to vote at lower rates than their older counterparts, as turnout tends to increase with age. Three-in-ten Gen Z eligible voters cast ballots in the 2018 midterm election – lower than the share of Millennial eligible voters who turned out (42%) and substantially below the rate for all eligible voters (53%).

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