Last week, the Pew Research Center released a detailed report that makes clear that the Republican Party no longer has a generational crisis with just Millennials, but with Gen Z too. Alarm bells should be ringing within the GOP, as Gen Z holds many of the same positions and views as millennials on issues, government, Donald Trump, as well as the Republican Party itself. Further, Gen Z Republicans, are more likely to break from the party on social issues, race and how involved government should be in the lives of its citizens.
Gen Z, who total approximately 66 million Americans, is also similar to their Millennial counterparts in matters of education, diversity and political belief. Few identify as Republican and among those that do, they are far more progressive than Republicans of older generations.
It is no secret that Donald Trump is not popular among younger Americans. Roughly 29 percent of millennials approve of the job he is doing as president. At the same time, Gen Z syncs up with millennials on this, as 30 percent approve of Trump. The two generations also are aligned when it comes to diversity. 62 percent of Gen Z and 61 percent of Millennials believe that increased diversity in the United States is a positive benefit for society.
However, when comparing Gen Z Republicans to their Millennial counterparts, there is a stark contrast on matters of race. When asked if African Americans are treated less fairly than whites, just 30 percent of Millennial Republicans agreed with the statement. Among Gen Z, the number increased drastically to 43 percent.
They also stand apart from Republicans of other generations on the issue of climate change. As Pew wrote:
In addition, the youngest Republicans stand apart in their views on the role of government and the causes of climate change. Gen Z Republicans are much more likely than Republicans in older generations to say government should do more to solve problems. And they are less likely than their older counterparts to attribute the earth’s warming temperatures to natural patterns, as opposed to human activity.
Simply put, Gen Z Republicans are much more likely to believe that the science is settled when it comes to climate change. This does not mean that they hold the same views on how to combat the problem as their Democratic counterparts. However, it does mean that for them, the debate is not about who is responsible for the problem, but how to solve it.
Of course, this news will be met by older voices within the Republican Party with the same, tired refrain that Gen Z, like Millennials, will become more conservative as they get older. What they are spouting is a bunch of malarkey. Were these loud and uninformed voices right, then Millennials would have already shifted away from the Democratic Party and toward the GOP. However, they have not. In fact, they continue to overwhelmingly identify as Democrats (just 20 percent consider themselves to be Republican) and this has played out at the ballot box.
Instead of denying reality, Republicans would be wise to start trying to win over Millennial and Gen Z voters now. Climate Change is an area in which the GOP could begin to focus their efforts. It would permit Republicans to separate themselves from Democrats, as we would emphasize the power of private innovation — a stark contrast to an ineffective and heavy-handed government-mandated approach favored by Democrats — to solve a very real and important problem.
Another area where the GOP would be wise to concentrate is on matters of equality. In an increasingly-diverse United States, the Republican Party is viewed as the party of the crusty old white guy and not as an inclusive big tent party. Engaging in a genuine and concerted effort to ensure that all Americans are truly treated equal is a core value of not only the GOP, but the United States itself.
Should Republicans not change course and seek to secure the future, the consequences will be dire. The GOP will become even more of a rural party that pushes the ideas and attitudes of the past, when it should be a party for the future. Such an outcome would be to the detriment of the country.