Gen Z has garnered an increasing amount of interest over the past couple years, and VPC has taken a lead in studying these young people and the role they play in the American electorate. In last year’s Gen Z message board study, we learned what is important to this generation and how we can more effectively mobilize them to register and vote for the general election. Now though, with the coronavirus pandemic in full force and the 2020 general election mere months away, it is more important than ever to study this generation and build on previous research, as their experiences and outlook on the world will be largely defined by what is going on right now. In 2016, Gen Z made up 1.9% of the presidential electorate, and they are projected to increase their share to 5.8% in 2020.1,2 Understanding this group’s attitudes towards American politics and the US in general, as well as their top priorities and concerns, will be critical in registering these young potential voters and getting out the vote.
Recently, LRP completed two online message boards, each among 20 Gen Z participants from various battleground states.3 Participants in the message boards logged in twice a day for three days of discussion, providing deep insight into a range of topics, including how the coronavirus has affected them and how they perceive the American political system. While last year’s study focused on mobilization efforts, especially voter registration, this study focuses heavily on how the coronavirus has impacted participants’ daily lives, worldviews, access to election information, and their plan to vote in November, namely the role that vote-by-mail will play.