In the weeks following the 2022 midterm election, Charles Gaba, a “numbers geekand founder of go-to Obamacare tracking site ACASignups.net, concluded that the Democratic nominee for Arizona attorney general likely defeated her Republican rival due to disparities in COVID-19-related death rates between Blue and Red voters.
Specifically, Democrat Kris Mayes beat Republican Abraham Hamadeh by one only 280 voices statewide. According to Gaba, at least 900 and possibly as many as 4,100 more Donald Trump voters have died of COVID than Joe Biden voters in the state of Arizona, far exceeding the margin of victory between Mayes and Hamadeh. In other words, excessive Republican deaths due to the pandemic could very well have been the reason for Mayes’ narrow victory.
Attorney General Mayes is currently mount a criminal investigation in attempts to cancel the 2020 state elections, among other progressive priorities. If Mayes had lost, state resources would instead be fully dedicated to a Big Lie witch hunt to find “those who worked to rob” Trump of his 2020 victory – an investigation that Hamadeh has repeatedly promised to launch if he wins.
The Arizona Attorney General contest is just one example of how a single race can define the political trajectory of a state and, indeed, a nation. But what if this scenario played out on a much larger scale across the country, with a massive gap in mortality rates between party voters between 2020 and 2024, even as an influx of new voters – mostly aligned with the healthiest party – replenishes the electorate?
That’s exactly what’s happening nationally as older GOP-aligned voters pass away, passing the generational baton to millions of younger Gen Z voters who are increasingly reshaping the electorate.
As Democratic Party strategist and pollster Celinda Lake pointed out in a recent Washington Post Editorialapproximately 4 million young people enter the electorate each year, or approximately 32 million new eligible voters between 2016 and the 2024 contest.
At the same time, about 2.5 million older Americans die each year, reducing the number of older eligible voters by about 20 million since 2016.
“Between Trump’s election in 2016 and the election in 2024, the number of Gen Z voters (born in the late 1990s and early 2010s) will have increased by 52 million net against seniors,” to write Lake and co-columnist Mac Heller. “This represents approximately 20% of the total eligible electorate in 2020 of 258 million Americans.”
Lake argues that even in a possible 2024 rematch between Biden and Trump, the electorate that will show up to vote will be entirely different and much more aligned with democracy.
“The candidates may not change — but the electorate has changed,” they surmise of another contest where a veteran Democrat faces Trump for a third straight round.
Naturally, the prospect of a potential windfall for Democrats comes with several caveats. A third-party candidate could appeal to many Gen Z voters, as they tend to be less party-aligned and more driven by a particular candidate’s policies, according to Lake.
Turnout is also an issue, although Gen Z voters have proved to be more reliable in recent cycles that their predecessors were the same age.
But if politicians, not candidates, are driving turnout, Republicans missed the memo.
Like Kristen Soltis Anderson, a GOP pollster who studies young voters, says Ron Brownstein in The AtlanticRepublicans don’t sweat the Gen Z factor in 2024.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of focus in the Republican world” on Gen Z voters, Anderson said, “partly because a lot of Republicans think there’s just no way younger voters are running for Joe Biden.”
John Della Volpe, director of polls at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, provided Brownstein with the counterpoint to this assertion. Biden’s leadership of the Democratic Party “didn’t really deter the generation from coming out and voting for Democrats” in 2020 or 2022, Della Volpe noted. “They knew the stakes in the election. They knew what life was like under more Republican control versus more Democratic control.”
That said, young voters in deep red states still favor Republican candidates. As the upcoming election gives Democrats a huge opportunity to win battleground states and maybe even enlarge the mapRepublicans will retain control of a strong swath of House and Senate seats.
Still, 2024 could be a make or break election, especially if the combined strengths of Gen Z and millennial voters finally overtake the Republican-aligned coalition of baby boomers and seniors that has dominated the American electorate for decades.
Yes, it’s quite plausiblewhich could help ensure the elevation of more Kris Mayes-like Democrats to historic defining roles in critical swing states, safeguarding the republic for decades to come.