April 23, 2024 - 7:00pm

Democrats are losing the huge advantage they’ve long held among young voters, largely due to Generation Z’s surprising affinity for Donald Trump.

Polls from the past year show a tipping point as Trump has climbed to near-parity with Joe Biden among Gen Z, but the trend has been underway for years.

Hillary Clinton had a 30-point lead over Trump in 2016 among voters aged 18-29, and Biden had a 24-point lead over his White House predecessor in 2020. But by July 2023, Biden was only leading Trump by 10 points; that lead shrunk to a single point in October and stayed steady in April, according to New York Times/Siena polling.

Biden’s popularity with young voters has been roughly stable since July, but Trump’s has spiked from 37 to 45%. Biden’s lead shrunk more among young voters over the past year than among any other age group, indicating a generational trend.

Gen Z is more racially diverse than older generations, so as Trump makes gains among black and Hispanic voters, he makes gains with those under 25. Young voters are also consistently more likely to have concerns about Biden’s age, the economy under his leadership and his support for Israel.

But Gen Z’s pro-Trump streak isn’t just a matter of policy. This generation’s detached sense of irony inures them against the earnest anti-Trump fervor of millennials, who comprised the youth voter demographic when he ran for office in 2016.

Young men are the primary drivers of Gen Z’s Rightward shift, with a gap as large as 30 percentage points between men and women on liberal versus conservative identification. This is evident on social media, with the ascendance of Right-wing masculinity influencers such as Bronze Age Pervert and Sol Brah, who strike a chord with what one conservative Zoomer described to me as “the most despairing generation”. The MeToo moment impaired gender relations, with young men hesitant to directly approach women outside of dating apps, and the resulting loneliness and resentment has made reactionary politics appealing to male Zoomers, he told me.

Gen Z came of age when the internet was awash with Trump memes and catchphrases — many such cases; fake news; they’re not sending their best. If his zaniness was off-putting to older voters, it’s endearing to Zoomers. Trump, perhaps aware of this, has begun pitching himself as the pro-TikTok candidate in this year’s election.

“Just so everyone knows, especially the young people, Crooked Joe Biden is responsible for banning TikTok”, the former president recently wrote on Truth Social. “Young people, and lots of others, must remember this on November 5th, ELECTION DAY, when they vote!”

is UnHerd’s US correspondent.