Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

A New Generation of Presidential Voters

Kay McHugh

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In 2022, 8.3 million young people became eligible to vote as they turned 18. In 2024, over 8 million youth will be of voting age come time for elections in November, resulting in a new high of nearly 41 million members of Gen Z able to vote this election cycle. This group of new voters has become a formidable block with the opportunity to wield significant political power.

In the U.S., the last election to take place nationally was the 2022 midterm where many of these young voters were not of age or did not participate. With the 2024 election 10 months away, political activity and public discourse are too plentiful to synthesize in one article. 

From legal battles in court, to a campaign that is both revered and feared, to a candidate that is trying to fight back to keep themselves in the race for the Republican nomination, to another that is trying to prevent the resurrection of a political entity.  

There has been a long road leading to today, where we see polarizing political discourse playing out in the public eye over the last few months and in the courts as we head into the months before a contentious U.S. election. 

Across the world, almost 50% of the population is also taking part in elections in over 60 countries and several regional blocs will hold elections, including the European Union. As this year is showing to be the election year across the globe, we can understand that far-reaching ramifications might be on track in the future if the geopolitical balance of the world is shifted or upended completely.  

As we head into the unknown of the next few months, there is a lot to be said around Seattle University surrounding the candidates, primary elections and the upcoming general elections in the fall. 

With months to go, there is still a sense of perseverance in the camp of Nikki Haley, the only remaining challenger to Trump’s presidential nomination. With fundraising events scheduled across three states, and a rally in her home state of South Carolina, her team continues to hold out hope for the eventual nomination

Alexa Zambrano, a first-year forensic psychology major, will be voting for the first time in this upcoming election. She intends to vote for Haley if she continues her campaign.  

“As of right now, I’d have to go with Nikki, because I think it’s about time, we give someone like her that control, and I would not like to see Trump again. But if it’s down to Trump and Biden, I’d go with Trump because Biden’s too old,” Zambrano said. 

Biden would be continuing the presidency as the oldest president (82 for the 2024 election) to take office in 2021 at 78 and with Trump at 70 in 2017, they are the oldest presidents elected to office. We see that there is a growing distaste for these nominees as they head into the older years of their lives.

Harpreet Sangha is a third-year computer science major approaching his first upcoming presidential election. Sangha is wary of the potential candidates, not having seen promise in any of the options as of yet. 

“I’ll see who I want to vote for towards the end, over the past few months nominees have been dropping out left and right as it happens, but both candidates don’t seem promising,” Sangha said. “. We’ve already seen both as president with these four years and the four years before with Trump, and besides them and other smaller third-party candidates, none of them stand out or do anything that would make me want to vote for either of them.” 

Tynan Mathieu is a third-year computer science major, and this will also be his first upcoming election. He echoed Sangha’s weariness towards both candidates, if they are the eventual nominations in the fall.  

“The options aren’t that promising, but I don’t think anyone else will be the nominations, it’s also who will be doing the least damage is who I’ll be rooting for because the main options aren’t that promising. When Trump got elected, it was an alarming thing to a lot of younger voters, and when Biden was elected it was alarming for the other side also,” Mathieu said.  

With the Gen Z vote becoming a larger number each year, there is the possibility that this year’s voting block skews more Democratic than Republican. However, within the new generation of voters, there is a strong block of independents with no party affiliation that tends to vote for the Democratic nominee. With millions of new voters registered since 2020, there will be a strong impact from the incoming voting group. 

“I think it’s going to have more of an impact on this election than the last election, there are more Gen Z that are now able to vote like me,” Mathieu said.  

Though neither believes strongly for either potential candidate, Sangha believes that Gen Z will have a major impact on the voting body.

“They’ll vote more because they have the opportunity, and with their strong beliefs, whether it be the Gen Z on the left or right, either side will get out to vote for candidates,” Sangha said.  

Though New Hampshire (Jan. 23) and Iowa (Jan. 15) were just the start of the presidential race, there are two notable upcoming races with Nevada Feb. 8 and Haley’s home state of South Carolina Feb. 24. Here, she is hoping to avoid being trounced and keep pushing towards the Republican nominee, but given Trump’s historical influence, that possibility may not look promising to many viewers of the race. 

While Trump may be barreling toward the nomination, he is under a slew of investigations relating to his business practices, payments made to Stormy Daniels, and election interference cases federally and in the state of Georgia. 

With those cases at different stages in their processes, different groups from states, including Colorado and Maine, have brought forth cases to bar the former president from their state primary ballots. The Colorado case has been escalated all the way to the Supreme Court, where they are slated to decide if Trump’s disqualification is valid or not

This is a tough legal and political situation, but there is a tough road ahead for all of the potential candidates. If Trump is the eventual nominee, he has already indicated he will go after his political rivals that challenged him. 

An anonymous law student provided their opinion on the first-year voters and what unique circumstances they are facing in this presidential election. 

“I think it’s really tough with this upcoming election, you have people who are born in the 1940s running in elections 80 years later, that’s a tough thing as a first-time voter to get really excited about,” the source said.

Regarding Republican candidates, the anonymous source highlighted how they are having a hard time connecting with the younger generation that will be voting in this election cycle. 

“One reason why conservative candidates have a hard time connecting with young voters, is that a conservatism that is strictly focused on trying to preserve what was there before doesn’t necessarily project any sort of vision of where to go in the future. Even if past practice had good answers to current problems, it’s a hard sale to make,” the law student said. 

The American Constitutional Society’s student chapter at Seattle U is a group focused on progressive interpretations of the Constitution. Last year was the first year back for the group and there have been several events they’ve held discussing a multitude of constitutional issues, cases in front of the Supreme Court and other current legal debates that are relevant to constitutional law. 

Jennelle Carlin is the president of the student chapter and a third-year law student who provided her thoughts on where younger voters might be getting their election coverage from. 

“With younger audiences especially, social media tends to be the main platform for news. The platforms can be great for disseminating information, but they can also put you in a tunnel where you only hear from one side,” Carlin said. “So it’s difficult for a first-time voter to know they’re seeing the full picture if their only source of information is coming from social media.” 

An issue that is commonly discussed by members of The American Constitutional Society involves the role of social media and media literacy in first-time voters’ political education.  

Rebecca Hannan is the vice president of the Constitutional Society chapter at Seattle U and is a second-year law school student. She provided her thoughts on first-time voters who may not be up to date or know what’s going on with some of the candidates in the legal world. 

“A first-time voter will care more about the actual events that are underlying the legal cases—–even if you don’t follow the news closely you know what happened on January 6. The first-time voters who are following the news very closely will care more about the underlying conduct of the candidates more so than the nuances of the legal battles that are playing out,” Hannan said. 

Coming from a law-based perspective, both Hannan and Carlin emphasized the lack of legal awareness that may influence first-time voters’ decisions, believing that the younger generation places further value on behavior over legality, while they find both to be important. 

“These legal cases are important and it’s important also for the value of precedent moving forward of what we’re saying under the law is okay and what you can do, what disqualifies someone from office in this country, it is important for that precedential value going forward,” Hannan said. “For first-time voters it’s important they understand the facts of what’s happened.” 

With this upcoming election there will be a large number of factors that will play into the intricacies of the fall and who will be nominated eventually for both parties. Only time can tell what the remainder of election season will hold. 

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  • V

    Vincent Yackery
    Feb 27, 2024 at 5:36 am

    Very timely, subject, well written, and well interviewed.

  • M

    Feb 19, 2024 at 11:30 am

    Impressive! But voter turn out is so important and a precious right. Discussion and debate only help if your actual vote is cast!

  • W

    Walt Nygard
    Feb 5, 2024 at 7:57 am

    Good work, Riley. Very diligent. I wish and hope that your generation of voters understand the existential battle that this election is. Essentially Democracy vs. American Fascism. I agree with all of you that both guys are too old. And the idea that Trump would even be allowed to run is a disgrace. There are strong lessons in history about the national suicide that a country’s fall into totalitarianism brings . . .

  • P

    P. Zalbert
    Feb 2, 2024 at 11:22 am

    A very well thought out informative article that lets one see how the genz ‘s are thinking about the upcoming election.

  • E

    Erica D Swensen
    Feb 2, 2024 at 11:15 am

    Great article