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Generation Z goes to the polls and WSU researchers are studying it

It has been a little over a week since residents went to the polls for Ohio’s local elections. This is also the first year many Gen Zers took part in voting.

Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace are co-authors in a nation-wide study on Generation Z’s attitudes on politics and voting.

Gen Z: A study

Seemiller and Grace have been examining Generation Z’s civic engagement practices since 2014.

They have also used raw voting data from the Census report on the 2016 election to separate Generation Z voters and Millennial voters.

This is important to note as many news sources often lump anyone 35 and under into the same voting demographic.

That means that first-time Generation Z voters and fourth-time Millennial voters are placed in the same category, according to Seemiller.

“There are a lot of differences between generations in terms of characteristics, values, motivations, styles, preferences, concerns, aspirations and viewpoints. What is important to note is that generation ‘peer personalities’ are shaped by contextual characteristics,” said Seemiller.

An under-researched topic

“What was happening (cultural events, pop culture, parenting philosophies, technology and innovation, etc.) around individuals during their adolescence and young adult years is what tends to shape how they see and navigate the world.”

The team’s current research is focused on what motivates Generation Z to vote, what they care about in politics and how they get their news and information.

The topic is unresearched, according to Grace.

“A lot of our research is focused on Generation Z as they enter different stages of life whether that’s college or the workplace or beyond,” said Grace. “Right now, this is one of the first major elections that Generation Z is of voting age to participate in. In the 2016 election, there were very few who were old enough to participate. Now we have a wider population of this generation of young adults who can participate in voting in this election.”

Many polls focus on trying to figure out which candidate people support.

While Seemiller and Grace are focusing on the larger picture of what concerns Generation Z has, what motivates their vote and what political ideologies they hold, according to Seemiller.

‘What motivates their vote and what political ideologies they hold’

“It’s also important to note that the majority of individuals in a particular generational cohort tend to vote along similar party lines,” said Seemiller. “For example, those in a generation who grew up during a time a particular party was in office and had a favorable rating, that generation, on average, has tended to vote with that party for much of their lives.”

Seemiller and Grace have launched a survey which is only eligible to be taken for those born between 1995 and 2001.

The survey is anonymous and approximately 15 minutes long, according to the research website thegenzhub, where the survey can be found.

“While not everyone in each generation votes the same way, generational voting patterns, in general, do highlight that what was happening politically during one’s young adulthood can persist throughout their lifetimes,” said Seemiller.

Seemiller is an associate professor at Wright State University who teaches Organizational Leadership courses, Master of Science in Leadership Development courses and Student Affairs and Higher Education courses.

Seemiller has been studying Generation Z since 2014.

Grace is a generational researcher author and has been studying generations since 2014.