Every few months, I hear about some study claiming that Generation Z is either more conservative or less conservative than previous generations. You can’t have it both ways. So what is really going on with 14- to 22-year-olds?
First of all, Gen Z is still mostly teenagers. Many of them have not fully formed their political views yet, and don’t know enough about the issues to have a real opinion. I should know. When I was in high school, I ignored politics because it was something my brothers were into. Of course, I still began forming a strong conservative foundation by reading every issue of National Review cover to cover.
According to comprehensive polling from the Pew Research Center, Gen Z is trending to the left. Their views mirror those of Millennials. The conservative magazine Commentary warns, “Generation Z is a liberal tsunami.”
They believe in even higher numbers than Millennials that government should do more to solve problems, 70%. Only 30% approve of President Trump’s job performance, barely more than Millennials at 29%. In contrast, 38% of Generation X approves of his performance, 43% of Boomers and 54% of the Silent Generation.
When it comes to climate change, Gen Z is very similar to the Millennials and not that much different from Gen X. Over 50% of Gen Z and Millennials believe the earth is getting warmer due to human activity. Gen X isn’t far behind, with 48% believing that.
Gen Z is also very similar to the Millennials when it comes to how great they think the U.S. is. Only 14% think the U.S. is the greatest country in the world, and only 13% of Millennials. In contrast, 20% of Gen X believes the U.S. is the greatest country in the world, 30% of Boomers, and 45% of the Silent Generation.
Of course, Pew always muddles their polls with artificial questions and breakdowns (they love splitting evangelicals between white evangelicals and non-white evangelicals, which is ridiculous since they’re not that far apart, it’s just stoking the racial flames). The poll asked whether more racial/ethnic diversity is good for society. Gen Z and the Millennials both said yes in higher percentages than the older generations. But that’s no surprise. Democrats supported Jim Crow laws last century and fought passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The older generations are still tainted by that. Changing people’s minds on that is not less conservative. It’s less Democrat.
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There are some exceptions to Gen Z becoming more liberal. Business Insider surveyed Gen Z and found that a majority did not identify as liberal or conservative. The remaining Gen Zers were about evenly split between the right and the left.
The Harris Poll took a survey on behalf of the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, and found that the percentage of young people who are comfortable interacting with LGBGQ people dropped from 53% in 2017 to 45% in 2018. That’s further down from 63% in 2016. Other age groups did not have similar drops.
The Hispanic Heritage Foundation found that eight out of 10 Gen Zers identify as fiscal conservatives. This could be because they watched their parents live through the economic decline in the late 2000s.
While only 18% of Millennials attend church, 41% of Gen Z does. Of course, this could be due in part to the fact Gen Z is still living with their parents. The Pew survey found that Gen Z views single mothers raising kids similarly to the older generations. Almost half believe it has no effect on society. Over a third believe it has a bad effect.
Global consultancy firm The Guild found that Gen Z is 10 times more likely than Millennials to dislike tattoos and piercings.
It makes sense that Gen Z is turning out liberal. They were raised by Gen X parents, who brought them up in a hands-off manner so they were heavily influenced instead by the public schools and social media. The big tech companies lean to the left and don’t try to hide their bias. Social media is the top way Gen Z gets its news. Business Insider conducted a survey with SurveyMonkey Audience partner Cint and found that more than half of Gen Z checks Snapchat, YouTube or Instagram daily.
As Gen Z increasingly ages past 18, we are going to feel the effects of their politics at the polls more and more. It does not bode well for conservatives in the future. Of course, many who are liberal in their youth become more conservative as they age. The cycle will likely continue with future generations starting out liberal and becoming conservative in later years.