Historically, the voting effort has been led by the oldest generation. The retired or 65+ generation has more time to research candidates, and don’t have to rearrange their entire schedule to make sure they can go to the polls.
This isn’t just the generation that has historically voted, this is also the generation that has long held the power in the U.S. government.
As of last year, baby boomers made up 53% of the House and 68% of the Senate, while the silent generation made up 6% of Congress, according to the Pew Research Center.
This wouldn’t be a problem if this wasn’t the demographic who is also the most affected by online misinformation efforts.
Even just centering one platform, 50% of Americans over 65 reported using Facebook.
Within this demographic, Facebook users over 65 were approximately 7 times more likely to share articles from fake news domains compared to those users aged 18-29 during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, according to a 2019 Princeton study.
This isn’t a deliberate choice on their part either, with age-based cognitive deficits, social changes, and lacking digital literacy all factors making it harder for them to be able to tell the difference between what is real and what is fake online.
Essentially, this means that the people who are most likely to vote are fighting an uphill battle to find reliable information on which to make these decisions.
Unfortunately for these voters, the problem remains that politicians that they can vote for overwhelmingly remain older despite the rapidly changing average age of voters, with approximately 25% of Congress being over 70.
This is the highest percentage of congress members over the age of 70 in history.
This reign of power of an older Congress serves to alienate the youngest voters who come from Gen Z, who have a completely different political mindset.
This mindset includes being more likely to be politically engaged and less likely to exist in the binary of Republican or Democrat than even the previous generation of Millenials.
This gap of both age and political ideologies between these voters and politicians can help explain Biden’s tanking approval ratings amongst Gen Z and Millenials and makes it apparent why efficacy in the U.S. government is generally decreasing.
Despite approval declining amongst them, they continue to show up to combat conservative efforts and are even being credited as the reason why there wasn’t overwhelming Republican wins as anticipated in the midterms.
These results, along with Trump announcing his bid for a second term and no news from Biden, makes it apparent that young voters have power and can prevent another term of a divisive candidate in 2024, but even greater, are actively preventing the U.S. from succumbing to an alt-right, misinformation-fueled political atmosphere.
Now, they just need to find a candidate that can represent them in this effort.
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