The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Pollster says Generation Z voters are up for grabs

Kristen Soltis Anderson says the GOP can win over Gen Z voters by presenting itself as a stabilizing force in politics
Aliya Gibbons
Kristen Soltis Anderson kicked off the first session of Mock Con.

Pollster and political commentator Kristen Soltis Anderson kicked off Mock Convention with an analysis of voting trends and electability of Republican candidates.

Anderson is the co-founder of Echelon Insights, an opinion research and analytics company, as well as a former Fox News contributor. Anderson said she considers herself an expert on the millennial vote as a millennial herself.

“My generation was known as being relatively bipartisan, pragmatic, optimistic, very infused with that Obama-era sense of ‘let’s all come together,’” Anderson said. “We participate in pretty big numbers…and nowadays tend to vote slightly to the left of where other generations did when they were in their thirties and forties.”

The pollster added that by now, most millennial voters have become “less of a swing constituency,” meaning that they are set in their ways and are very unlikely to change political affiliations.

But Anderson said that Generation Z voters, which are Americans born in the late 1990s to early 2010s, are still “up for grabs” despite being “quite progressive.”

Anderson said that there are two main reasons why the Republican Party is in a good position to bring over young voters: first, that Gen Z has become extremely disillusioned with the current Democratic Party and second, that there is a growing divide between young men and women over cultural values and economic issues.

Gen Z’s disappointment and frustration with the Democratic Party and President Joe Biden’s administration is evident in many surveys and studies she has conducted, Anderson said.

“It is oftentimes Gen Z that is the most likely to disapprove of Joe Biden,” Anderson said about the data collected by her analytics company.

Many students said they agreed with Anderson’s observation, and that the presidencies of Biden and former President Donald Trump have made them more critical of U.S. politics.

“We as a generation have become much more exposed to issues because of social media, which leads to having more knowledge and opinions of what’s going on in our world,” said Eli Staubi, ’25, vice president of College Democrats. “That’s why you see so many young people critical of Biden’s stance on social ‘trendy’ issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Anderson also said that while Gen Z still reports being more likely to vote Democrat, young voters also reported feeling as if there was no real difference between Biden and Trump.

The pollster said this is because voters think the candidates are both older men who don’t represent Gen Z or their values.

The only perceived difference, according to Anderson, is that Gen Z is incredibly doubtful of Biden’s competence, mental acuity and ability to fulfill the duty of being president for the next four years. There is no such doubt in Trump’s abilities, she said.

But where Trump does fall short is in his struggle to break away from his “Mr. Chaos” persona, she said, which makes many Republican voters feel uneasy about re-electing the former president.

“I really do see a hunger… for stabilizing forces in our politics,” Anderson said. “[Voters] want someone who’s going to fix crime, who’s going to fix inflation, who’s going to fix the border, who’s not going to necessarily upset the apple cart day in and day out.”

Anderson suggested that Trump and the Republican Party have the potential to be that stable force if Trump is strategic in his pick for vice president.

She predicted Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina or Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York as ideal candidates to be Trump’s running mate, because they can represent a “new face for the party.” She also said that Scott and Stefanik would bring over voters from demographics that the Republican Party has had difficulties winning over, including voters of color, women and millennials.

But some students aren’t sure if a “calmer” vice president would be able to negate the turmoil associated with Trump’s presidency.

“People are never going to forget Jan. 6, they’re not going to forget all of the election fraud drama, they’re not going to forget Trump’s arrest,” Adam Chin, ’24, said.

Anderson said that whether or not the Republican Party is successful in the current election, one thing remains clear: “No matter who is in charge, Americans are just frustrated with everything. They’re disappointed and disillusioned with their leaders in a very, very big way.”

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