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Young women are fed up, but eager to take action
With less than a year until the 2024 election, new polls from Supermajority Ed Fund and HIT Strategies and IGNITE offer fresh data about where young women want to channel their energy.
On the heels of an election night that once again proved American voters care deeply about protecting abortion access, two surveys released this week offer further insights about young women in the U.S. less than a year out from the 2024 presidential election.
A poll of young women ages 18-35 from Supermajority Ed Fund and HIT Strategies and a poll of Gen Z Americans ages 18-25 from IGNITE, a group that supports young women’s political leadership, demonstrate a cohort of potential voters frustrated and fed up but eager to take action. While in many ways, this is a tale as old as time (or, at least, for Gen Z and millennial women, a tale as old as the Trump years), the surveys offer fresh data points about where young women want to channel that energy, their beliefs in collective power, and what causes are most deserving of their passion.
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Supermajority Ed Fund, a community for women who want to become advocates and leaders, teamed up with HIT Strategies, which focuses on researching minority communities, to survey 1,300 young women ages 18-35 who voted in 50% or less of the last 6 federal elections they were eligible for or registered prior to 2022 general election. They oversampled for AAPI, Black, and Latina women.
When it comes to key issues, the groups found that these voters are prioritizing the economy and the cost of living (56%), abortion access (42%), mental health (41%), and healthcare (40%).
While 60% of the young women surveyed don’t currently believe the political system is working for them, they’re hopeful that it “could in the future.”
Asked who’s to blame for the broken government, 50% of those surveyed said “politicians are out of touch with the daily life of most people,” 48% said “power-hungry politicians seeking control,” and another 33% said “too many old white men in power.”
To get a deeper understanding of the poll, I spoke with Ashley Aylward, Research Manager at HIT Strategies.
Aylward said she’s, “surprised by how high [respondents] rated their collective power of young women,” adding that a belief in collective power creates a moment for organizers to talk about young women voters generally as a “voting community,” similar to the way they would Black voters, young voters, and Latino voters specifically.
Given this summer’s fixation on hyper femininity — the obsession with the Barbie movie, Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, and Beyonce’s Renaissance Tour — Aylward said: “This is a moment of opportunity.”
She pointed to HIT’s question on identity, in which the group asked, “Which of the following traits are most important to your identity?”
57% of young women said “your role in relationships” (like being a mother, caregiver, wife, friend)
40% said “your personality”
39% said “being a woman”
39% said “your spiritual/religious beliefs”
In HIT’s polling, 42% of young women said they believe other young women have the power to make change on issues that matter most in their community, while just 23% of young women said they believe their vote has the power to make change on issues important to them. Asked if it’s not through voting, how young women see their peers’ able to make change, Aylward said she believes it’s really about “collective power.”
“Folks feel so powerless as an individual, when they can’t identify themselves as part of a larger community. When they look at collective communities, they see that as the agent for change,” Aylward said.
Meanwhile, pulling on many of the same threads, IGNITE’s survey found that young women (who are more likely to identify as Democrats than Republicans), and are looking for candidates who look like, sound like, and act like them.
According to IGNITE: “Roughly 70% of Gen Z women-identifying and non-binary people reported they would be more likely to vote if there were more women candidates, racial minority candidates, younger candidates and candidates that speak to the issues of young people on the ballot.”
Gen Z and young voters “want candidates who care about their issues, represent the diversity they see amongst their peers, and have the authentic digital savviness to engage with them in a meaningful way,” IGNITE CEO Sara Guillermo said in a press release with the group’s data.
A strong week for young candidates at the ballot box 🗳
Across the country, young candidates won state and local seats this week. According to Run For Something, the PAC that supports young progressives running for state and local office, more than 150 of their endorsed candidates clinched victories.
Here’s a 👀 look 👀 at some of Run For Something’s youngest new elected officials:
26-year-old Janelle Astorga, School Board, District 1, Albuquerque, New Mexico
19-year-old Gavin Scott Griffin, City Council, At-Large, Titusville, Pennsylvania
27-year-old Brandon Sakbun, Mayor, Terre Haute, Indiana
23-year-old Dylan Liddle, City Council, District 2, Lawrenceburg, Indiana
34-year-old Thomas Schnurr, Town Board, At-Large, Bethlehem, New York
19-year-old Isaiah Santiago, School Board, At-Large, Rochester, New York
35-year-old Amelia McMillan, School Board, Central York, Pennsylvania
26-year-old Brandon Holdridge, Town Supervisor, Chester, New York
22-year-old Nick Roberts, City Council, Indianapolis, Indiana
“There are no ‘off-years’ at RFS,” RFS co-founder Ross Morales Rocketto said in a statement. “Local elections matter and it is more important than ever to invest in the infrastructure that will sustain progressive power beyond any one election cycle.”
Run GenZ, which supports young Republicans, had a successful week, too.
“On Tuesday, we saw once again that young candidates have the fire in them necessary to win elections,” Run GenZ President & Founder Joe Mitchell said in a text message. “Whether it was Rep-elect Rodney Hall in Mississippi, the first Black Republican elected to the MS Legis since reconstruction era, or Aiden DeMarsey in Eversham, NJ who will become the youngest member of his community’s school board - young, conservative leaders are creating a road map for their peers to step up and demand their seat at the table.”