Recent studies have shown that generation Z, the age demographic following Millennials, may be far more conservative than expected.
Older members of generation Z are graduating high school, meaning 2016 was the first time many of them were able to vote. Eric Metaxas, writing for CNS news, claims that ,”according to a growing body of research, they may be, by certain measures, the most conservative generation since World War II—more than Millennials, Generation Xers and even the Baby-Boomers.” The question, of course, is why is this the case? One might assume younger generations are becoming increasingly liberal, as millennials are notorious for occupying the left-wing. However, studies have shown otherwise.
According to polls conducted during the 2016 election, generation Z voted far more conservatively than millennials. Eight out of ten generation Z members identify as fiscally conservative. The Hispanic Heritage Foundation collected polling data from 50,000 high school students prior to the election. Forty-six percent of first time voters stated they would vote in favor of the Republican candidate, while 31% stated they would vote for the Democratic candidate. The study also found that their primary concerns were education, gun rights, and health care.
Researchers provide a few possible answers.
It is still very early to assume that these generalized speculations are accurate. However, researchers have presented a few convincing answers.
Millennials grew up in a time of great prosperity and technological growth. Many reached voting age before the threat of Islamic terror became as prevalent as it is today. In contrast, generation Z has only ever known life with instant internet access. As a result they’ve experienced constant exposure to the harsh realities of today’s current events. They’ve also grown up in a time of economic struggle, consistent terrorism, rising debt, and war overseas. It is possible that this has lead them to maintain a more pragmatic, conservative outlook on political issues.
Generation Z has also grown up in the world of Youtube and Twitter, which provide a more harshly realistic view of the world, as opposed to millennials who grew up watching Disney films and idealized TV shows. This doesn’t necessarily account for the drastic shift in ideologies entirely, but it is certainly worth considering.
The Rise of Accessible Conservative Leaders
Another large factor that may have contributed to the shift in ideologies is the rise in popular conservative voices. Fearless leaders such as Ben Shapiro, Tomi Lahren, Ann Coulter, and many others began unapologetically representing the conservative movement on popular platforms over the last few years. Many of these public figures present the conservative argument in an entertaining way, and their content is easily available on sites where generation Z members already spend much of their time. These conservative voices were not nearly as prevalent when millennials were growing up and forming their ideologies. It is possible that the conservative argument is simply more accessible and better represented today than it was even ten years ago.
It is also possible that the overwhelming liberal indoctrination at universities has played a role in the ideological shift. Parents and universities alike are aware that if a child does not have a solidified ideology prior to entering college, he or she will likely graduate a liberal. Therefore, conservative parents may now be more likely to educate their children about political issues at home.
It’s still early to assert generalized claims about the political beliefs of the generation following millennials. However, studies show that the future may be bright after all for those looking to preserve conservatism.