‘Voting Became a Lot More Cool’: How Gen Z Showed Up for Biden

The youth vote helped Democrats win the White House. Can it deliver the Senate too?

Mari Uyehara
GEN
Published in
10 min readNov 30, 2020

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Photo: SOPA Images/Getty Images

“We were born into the tragedy protest movement,” says Reshad Daniels, a 22-year-old senior at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, summing up his generation’s perspective.

Daniels is an intern with Rev. Raphael G. Warnock’s runoff campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, having completed another internship with Jon Ossoff’s campaign for the state’s other Senate seat. Young voters’ share of the Georgia electorate grew to 16.2% in 2020 from 14.4% in 2016, and the success of Democrats in the state has drawn heavily on the participation of Daniels and others like him: an army of volunteers, organizers, and activists whose youthful passion and generation-defining movements of moral outrage helped flip Georgia for Joe Biden and trigger runoffs for both Senate seats on January 5.

They had help from their elders. A consortium of organizations including Fair Fight and The New Georgia Project — two groups founded by Stacey Abrams in her decadelong push for voting rights in the state — registered an estimated 800,000 new Georgia voters since 2016. Forty-five percent were under the age of 30 and 49% were people of color. Just four years after Donald Trump won the state by 5.1%, these voters were part of the multiracial coalition spanning suburban and urban areas that turned Georgia blue for the first time since 1992. Now, young people like Daniels will be critical to Ossoff and Warnock’s fights for the Senate. At stake is not just the candidates’ future, but much of the Biden administration’s agenda; Democrats will need to win both races to gain control of the Senate and for Biden to have any chance of passing major legislation.

Mocking politically engaged college students is an easy sport. For years, pundits have gleefully painted them as unhinged kooks hopped up on petty grievances, like outraged Oberlin students blasting bad sushi as cultural…

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Mari Uyehara
GEN
Writer for

Culture and politics writer based in Brooklyn and western Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in GQ, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and more.